Superintendent’s Message

August 22, 2016

DrJanneryWebWelcome to our board meeting! Thank you for making the trip to join us at SUHI for tonight’s board meeting. It is our board of trustees’ intent to hold five of our board meetings this year in the community, one in each of the trustee areas. Tonight we are in Area 1. Area 1 schools include SUHI, NCM, GJ, CVH, CVM, NCA.

What’s happening in Sweetwater?

  • Last week all School Leadership Teams (SLT) met to hear research around high performing urban schools. Throughout this year, we will be learning about three empowering characteristics that are observed at these high performing urban schools that look a lot like our schools in Sweetwater. The purpose of having SLTs meet is for Sweetwater educators to develop a common understanding and common language about excellent and equitable learning results. We had great feedback from all participants. Our next SLT series will occur in early November. Gratitude is extended to all who attended.
  • Over the weekend Parkview Little League players persisted and remain in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Once again we are well represented with players who attend RDR (9), BVM (2), and MoM (1). Play ball! Their next game is tomorrow! (Update: Parkview did not make it; however, we are so proud of their efforts and how far they advanced!)
  • Today the Eastlake Educational Foundation (EEF) hosted their 21st Annual Golf Tournament – Stan Canaris Invitational with proceeds directed towards supporting all Eastlake schools! EEF’s long-time sponsorship has been benefitting ELH and ELM students and staff, especially in the area of technology. Hats off to the foundation members – we sincerely appreciate all you have done for the past 21 years!
  • This coming weekend we are hosting our inaugural EdCamp619, a unique Edventure. What is an EdCamp? EdCamp is a professional learning event by educators for educators. The participants are the presenters and the learners, all together! Anyone may attend! It would be appreciated if you register on the Professional Growth website so staff can accommodate all who attend. Then just come ready to share and learn! EdCamp619 is being held at SUHI in the theater: 8am – 12pm, Saturday, Aug 27.

When I was principal at Chula Vista Middle from 1997 – 2001, I believed that character education was, and still is, an important part of what we teach and model in schools. At that time, I came across a program called Project Wisdom. This program has been around since 1992 and is one of the most well-known and respected character education/social-emotional programs available to schools.

The centerpiece of Project Wisdom is a collection of thought-provoking messages designed to be read over a PA or in-house television system that encourage everyone on a campus to do and be their best. In just one minute a day, one can reach each student and each adult with a few words of wisdom that will uplift and promote a more positive and effective school climate. These messages are organized into weekly themes that also are multi-cultural in content. Here’s an example:

  • Good morning Sweetwater, this is Dr. Janney with a few words of wisdom.  Every day we are faced with many decisions. The choices we make affect not only us, but those around us…and those around those around us. It’s like throwing a pebble into a still pond. Our choices ripple out into the world in ways we don’t always understand. How do we make the right choice? William James, great America philosopher, says:

Tell him to live by yes and no. Yes to everything good. No to everything bad.

How do we know what’s good and what’s bad? How do we know right from wrong? First, we listen to the wisdom of our parents, teachers, and grandparents or perhaps our faith leaders. And then second, we listen to our hearts. Are you trying to make an important choice in life? Then turn off the iPad and the TV. Turn off Pokemon Go and music. Sit. Be still. Listen, and Let your conscience be your guide.
With something to think about, this is Dr. Janney. Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours.

I used to make that announcement everyday as a middle school principal. And, I believed it positively impacted the culture and climate at our school. Students and staff, and even parents would tell me it made a difference.

Then I moved to the high school as principal of Montgomery in 2001. I knew that Project Wisdom was a good idea, but would high school students and staff relate to these messages?

I went for it at Montgomery HS! I would share this message each day on KMMI. That’s right, on live TV that was broadcasted into every classroom. Well, it was about two weeks into the year and the admin team was making presentations to all period 2 classes. In one of the classrooms after we spoke a 10th grade student (who also played lineman on the football team) called me out on the daily messages. He said something like, “You know those messages you give every day? Well, they’re pretty good, but don’t you think it would be more effective if students gave those messages? Because, you know, nobody really listens to the principal.” Let’s just say this young man was not afraid to say what he thought at any time and to anyone.

I responded (after my heart skipped a beat) that I think that’s a great idea, but that for now, I really wanted students to hear from me what I thought was important about values and beliefs. And, that I hoped he would give me a chance as the new principal to get to know what students think. So, I continued reading Project Wisdom, but on the days that I wasn’t on campus during KMMI, I started inviting students to read them on those days. After I made that slight change, I would pass this young man in the hall ways periodically. He didn’t really stop and talk with me, but he would give me a “head nod” as we passed. I believe that was his ‘nod of approval’ of me listening to his idea.

Fast forward three years later when he was a senior. It was near the end of the year and he approached me asking if he could read the words of wisdom his last week of school. Not just one day, but every day of that week! Remember earlier when I said he was not afraid of speaking his mind? Well, a few people tried to caution me. But, I just knew he would do the right thing. So, I said yes!

What do you think happened? We picked out the theme together that he wanted to read that week. And, I would meet him at the studio each morning for the live broadcast. He was so concerned about doing a good job, he was literally sweating on camera. He shared the messages with sincerity, conviction, and warmth! He did make it a great day each day of his final week of his senior year.

Why did I share that story? What’s the message? Student voice matters and making connections with students matter! This whole idea around developing a positive transformational culture is one of our LCAP goals, knowing that our culture and climate are foundational to our work of teaching and learning! Tonight you will hear from Dr. Fulcher with an update of the opportunities staff and our community will engage in throughout this year. We welcome and encourage your participation to learn more about a positive transformational culture!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve and support each of you!

Sincerely,
Karen Janney, Ed.D.

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