Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The year is quickly winding down – not quickly enough in some respects, this has been as nutty a last couple of weeks as I can remember! Anyway, before most of you pack it in for the summer I wanted to express my thanks and share some thoughts.
In January of 1991 my national guard unit was called up to serve in Desert Storm. We processed into the active duty ranks and shipped quickly to Germany. Our orders read “for 360 days unless later shortened or extended.” I was part of a combat engineer battalion, and while the basic and advanced training for a combat engineer is only a summer long (making it an attractive job for college students who don’t want to miss a semester), the average lifespan of a combat engineer in action is a matter of weeks (making it somewhat less attractive in the event of a deployment). As most of you will recall, the “ground war” itself was over in less than two months. In those eight or so weeks, all we did was sit on our duffle bags in barracks next to an airstrip, awaiting direction to board our plane. It was more than unsettling. Interestingly (in retrospect), the unnerving ambiguity really came when the war ended and the wait began for orders to return home. Finally, after an additional four months, in June we flew to Ft. Lewis, Washington for out-processing and a few days later flew back home to Utah. As the jet was taxiing towards our families at the national guard hanger, the “fasten seatbelt” sign notwithstanding, all of us were on our feet pressing towards the exits. In fact, persons who were never identified opened the emergency exit doors on the plane as it taxied so we could see better while we were standing. I don’t know what regulations were violated…
I share this story for a couple of reasons. First of all, as the end was coming into view, we did some things that were perhaps imprudent but reflected our emotional exhaustion. Secondly, as we got off the plane, hugged our families and drove home, we were not in a hurry to put the uniform on again. In fact, while our unit typically met monthly, I think we weren’t called back for a weekend drill for several months. Frankly, there were quite a few folks I didn’t want to see for a while, preferably a long while. By fall, after a long break, we were ready to get back together, sharing pictures (remember, this was back when film had to be developed) and stories. We were ready to go back to work – which we would not have imagined possible in June.
There may be some similarities to the ending of a school year. I truly believe that we can be proud of the ground that’s been covered and of the great work that’s been done this year. I brag about us every chance I get. I mean that absolutely sincerely. That having been said, I’m also conscious of the unnerving ambiguity of so many things going on in our profession, and I’m keenly aware of emotional exhaustion and stress fractures that many of us feel particularly as the year comes to an end. I can also sympathize with the feeling that there are some folks you might not want to see for a while. But I also truly believe that the work in which we’re engaged, regardless of a specific job title, is the greatest of all works. We help kids form a foundation that they will rely and build upon for their entire lives and for their families’ lives. Because it is such a great work, it is also a hard work and I want to personally and sincerely thank each of you for doing your part.
I’m also conscious of some friends for whom this year is the last. Some crazy part of me wishes the year would slow down because I will miss you dearly. All of us need to give a special thanks to those colleagues who, after years and sometimes decades of shoulder-to-shoulder work, are retiring.
Please, go home in a few days (it would be best if you’d wait until Friday afternoon!) and rest. You’ve earned it and deserve it. Take time to recharge with your friends and loved ones.
We’ll see you in the fall; bring pictures and stories to share!
Thanks for all you do – I mean it,
We’re getting really close and I’m starting to believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is something other than a train. Frankly though, I don’t truly breathe freely until the morning after graduation when all the graduates appear to have made it home safely after their celebrations.
I did a snapshot a couple of weeks ago where I talked about watching my son run the mile at a meet over at Taylorsville High – how during the first three laps the kids seem to be running at an impossible pace and then they speed up even more for the last lap, and then collapse after crossing the finish line. I know that’s how many of you (us) feel, that we kept an impossible pace going all school year long and then ratcheted it up into an all-out sprint for this final quarter. I sincerely thank you for the races you’ve run.
As I’ve thought about how far the metaphor can be stretched, I’d like to tug it a bit further. After he ran the mile, I watched my son limp over to the tree where the rest of his team was. There were hugs and high-fives all around, then he sat down and guzzled some water and ate a snack of some kind. After that he kind of collapsed and covered his face with a smelly t-shirt for a bit and I think he may well have been sleeping. After a long while he popped up and called on a couple of team members so they could warm up in preparation for the 800 meter run.
I’m extremely hopeful, as the next 72 or so hours pass, that we’ll give beleaguered and wearied hugs and high-fives to each other and then go crash for a while, doing whatever it is that fills our own personal buckets (or sharpens our saws etc.). For most of our teachers, eight to ten weeks from now you’ll hunt up some peers and start warming up for the next race. Many of our support staff have a much shorter turn around as they jump into deep cleaning, refurbishing of facilities and equipment and other kinds of preparation activities – I hope all of you take the time to stretch tired muscles and have time to really refresh. You deserve it.
I think most of you know by now that once ratification is complete, Granite appears to have the best settlement of all the districts in the state. The board of education really stepped out to do right by employees. Thanks to the associations for all their great work as well. For the many of you whom this affects, we’re likely going to be able to have a reduction in the number of district assessments next year as well (with your participation and feedback this past year we think we will be able to modify the tools to get the information needed to inform teachers, parents and students in a better format, more quickly and with fewer administrations than in the past). I’m also greatly pleased that in virtually every category our SAGE scores improved significantly over last year, your efforts and focus – and I mean everybody’s efforts and focus – really have paid off. The game changed rules and we’ve all made adjustments to compete and win in the new context. You all deserve all the credit and I couldn’t be prouder!
Thanks for all you do – have a great summer and we’ll see you in the fall!
Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to email@example.com.
Many of you noticed the link error in the first email that was sent announcing this Superintendent Snapshot. Perhaps the irony of a proofreading error in a message about the importance of proofreading will help all of us keep a sharp eye on our written communications.
The following message was sent to all Granite School District employees on Thursday, December 19, at 10 a.m.
I went to bed last night planning a holiday greeting to send out this morning. When the phone rang at 4:00 AM, my thoughts turned another direction.
I left the house much earlier than usual, chipped ice off my windshield, dropped my two elementary kids off at school (the high school kids were long gone already) and drove at a crawl the rest of the way to work. We have two schools with power out, the one with exterior windows we’ll be able to keep open half a day – following a late start – so they don’t have to make it up in April. The other, without exterior windows, we’re getting the word out to close now.
I do want to express my thanks to the transportation fleet, the grounds crews – and all those who don’t usually wield shovels or drive snow plows – who’ve jumped to help provide a warm, safe, supervised, warm-meal day to the children in this community we serve. My thanks absolutely include our teachers who really do the hardest work in our whole organization day in and day out.
As we’ve approached this holiday season, my thoughts have turned to family and Christmases past, including thoughts about my dad who battled cancer, ultimately losing the fight nearly 14 years ago. Paradoxically, he took every opportunity to say that for him, an advantage of cancer was that “it gives the chance to say the things you were too dumb to say before you got sick.” With that counsel, although hopefully not that situation, I encourage all of us (including me), to take the opportunity in the next couple of weeks to initiate repair of bridges in our personal lives and affirmatively let our loved ones know that they are, in fact, our loved ones.
In my own home we celebrate Christmas, so from my home to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas! I also know many of us approach this season differently and to you, I wish heartfelt Happy Holidays! I’m proud to work with so many great people who dedicate their professional lives, and much of their personal lives, to building our community’s future by serving children directly and indirectly both in our schools and in support of our schools.
I thank all of you!
Welcome to the latest snapshot. If you have a question for the superintendent, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the latest snapshot. To submit a question, email it here.
Question – I am a principal’s secretary at an Elementary. I’m on the Advisory committee with GAEOP. The committee met last week and I asked the question about when we might have a fillable PDF for the Discovery registration card. And perhaps when it would be available to put on our individual schools web site? I know that Jordan and Salt Lake districts are currently using this. As an elementary school secretary, we are always trying desperately to find ways to use our 8 hrs. effectively. We would love to not have to use the time copying and creating packets and spending money on paper and postage. Huge amounts of hours are spent every spring, throughout the summer and early fall preparing these packets. It would be great if we could plan a registration date where the parents brought in the forms already printed and filled out. The other issue that is difficult is the email addresses. They are so hard to figure out the printing, you know, is it an a or is it an o or an i or an l, having the parent fill it in is nice in a typed form. We desperately need more help in our offices, and this is just one way that would help us out. The plan would be, put the entire packet on our schools web site; the parent fills out the PDF file and forms and then prints them at home. Then parents could bring them to the school site. This would help with postage and lots of very needed time in the office to do others things that can’t be expedited any other way. Thanks for listening, we know the budgets are tight but it doesn’t change the fact the elementary school secretaries are really stretched thin.
Response – We appreciate the hard work of our principals’ secretaries and the responsibility they have for assuring that our schools run smoothly; we continue to streamline processes and take advantage of technological advances that will help us all work smarter and more efficiently. Our biggest challenge has been that schools want to design their own cards. We’ve been meeting for some time to get everyone to agree on a standard card – including consistency in form items and compliance with federal and state regulations. The next step will be to have this available online.
While the suggestion to have parents bring them in already filled out is intriguing, it’s not immediately clear how well this would work. (That’s a nice way of saying we’re not sure how many would do it – and we’re not in a position, practically or philosophically, to tell parents to go away and come back when they have filled out the forms. Our superintendent would take great exception to such an approach – he is fond of saying that the kids aren’t here for us, but that we are here for the kids.) We will, though, continue to do all we can to make the process easier for both parents and school personnel.
Thanks again for the question.
Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot where the superintendent recognizes a volunteer at West Lake Junior High during National Volunteers Week.
Question – What is the policy of cell phone use while driving a vehicle during working hours. If we don’t have one, Why not?
Response – In addition to a state law that prevents this, we also have district policy and practice which indicates (from the bus driver manual), “A driver shall not use a cell phone, talking or texting, while operating a school bus, unless the bus has been pulled over safely and stopped. Drivers may never use a blue tooth or any form of earphones. Improper use of cell phones will result in at least a written warning, whether talking or texting.” We also comply with a state office of education memo which indicates the same restrictions as our own policy.
If you see district employees violating this policy, we would appreciate notification directly to the Transportation Department at (385) 646-4280.
Thanks to our Transportation Department for their assistance in responding to this question.