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Superintendent's Update - April 1, 2022


The tentative Board of Education calendar can be found HERE.


Heading into the 2022-23 school year, it is time to review and revise our priority areas. I have met with student groups at both high schools to gather input. Ultimately, the goals are designed to support students. They are the reason why we are here! As expected, their feedback has been insightful and powerful.

We are proposing two revisions to the priority goals in the future. First, we want to revise our current goal of "Service to Others" to include "Serve and Celebrate Others." Next, we plan to revise "Mental Health" to include "Mental Health and Wellness."

Our students were thoughtful and engaged in our meetings. They talked about the importance of celebrating groups and effort. They advised against singling out individual achievement as a practice and further warned against celebrating too many quantitative accomplishments. It was clear they really care about each other and want to find ways to reach kids who otherwise may not feel celebrated.

The students transitioned quickly from mental health to wellness. That was an interesting evolution. I can see that many students are feeling stress. Grading practices and college admissions preparation were the top two sources of stress they shared. This is not new information, yet has not improved. One student asked me if I could tell parents that mental health is not less important than college preparation.

One school took me on a deep dive regarding grading practices. Stories poured out of them during our time together. I am hopeful that our teachers and site administrators can provide places to have meaningful conversations about the impact of grading. The students were masterful in articulating a need to embrace a growth mindset. This means most things in life don't receive a single grade at a discrete point in time. I was thinking about the PAUSD Promise as an example. We have literally gone through hundreds of revisions. If we expected it to be done perfectly the first time, we would have been stuck with something full of holes and judged for a product that could have been improved. Why is it different for our students?

Final exams were also discussed with the students. Their point is that the value of final exams is puzzling. Generally speaking, students are asked to "cram" for tests that often replicate previous exams. We should evaluate any practice that creates a need to bring in therapy animals for students to counter the stress we have created. Life is not stress free. Regardless, we have an obligation to consider the student impacts of our actions and practices.

Wellness is complicated and simple at the same time. This is an area where service and wellness can intersect. If we all think about how to improve the wellness of others, I suspect our own wellness can also benefit. The person or group waiting for someone else to impact their wellness is missing the opportunity to invest in someone else.

I am hopeful that each member of the PAUSD community can think about how they can impact wellness in people they may not even know. It could be powerful if students thought about their peers AND the staff. Our professional associations could think about their members AND students. Our PAUSD administration could think about the Leadership Team AND employees AND students. No individual or group can own this alone.

With the revisions, the proposed 2022-23 PAUSD Promise priority goals will be:

  • Serve and Celebrate Others
  • Mental Health and Wellness
  • Equity
  • Early Literacy
  • Healthy Attendance

The 2021-22 annual report, sometimes referred to as a stewardship report, can be found HERE.