News from the Superintendent: The Gift and the Challenge
I often think back on a newspaper clipping that my mother sent me in my early years of teaching. It was a circle from "The Family Circus" comic by Bil Keane depicting big sister giving some advice to little brother: "Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a GIFT. That's why it is called the present."
The work we do in education is not easy. As educators, the gift we have is the next transaction with a student, parent or community member. It can be hard not to let our previous negative experiences impact that next conversation -- especially with so many demands on our time, energy and resources.
Yet, the cumulative effect of small daily actions can be profound. As a district and a community, we must do everything we can to remain student-focused at all times and in all decisions. We have the opportunity to encourage, challenge, and create positive connections for students at every step along the way.
At Brookings-Harbor School District, our mission is to cultivate a safe, highly effective, and collaborative learning environment where every student can succeed. Making this a reality requires a commitment to an ongoing process and doing it in partnership with students, parents, staff, and the community.
Since I joined the district this fall, our BHSD leadership teams have analyzed past assessment and student data and gathered feedback from a new community survey, as well as staff and student surveys. Using insights from this process, we have prioritized two keystone goals: 1. Improve graduation rates; and 2. Improve attendance.
The district submitted a draft Continuous Improvement Plan to the state earlier this month which maps out targets as well as potential sub-goals and strategies for the coming years. The plan requires a commitment to building data-driven teams and routines; centering relationships and resources for students; implementing needed investments and systems changes; and, continuing to communicate with and engage the community in the improvement process. It's an instrument of accountability, but the true proof will be how we can create a culture that keeps students wanting to come to school.
At the end of the day, I truly believe what Frederick Douglass said a long time ago, that “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I have challenged our teachers and staff to be instruments of inspiration for our students -- to be effective with the conversations that we have in order to help students buy-in to the value of their education and training. Our jobs are tough because we serve all children, and they are trying to find a place to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel valued. Our jobs are tough because we must create that welcoming and inclusive space -- it’s the gift and the challenge.
We are grateful to everyone in the community who shared their concerns and dreams for the district this fall. We appreciate our volunteer leaders, including the elected School Board of Directors, District Leadership Team, school SITE Councils, and others for their collaborative work and support of our schools. We look forward to more conversations in 2020! I can be reached with email, by calling 541-469-7443 or by stopping by the District Office at 564 Fern Ave., Brookings.
Chris Eberhardt, Interim Superintendent