August 11, 2017

Next week school starts for our 12,455 students, and it promises to be a joyful, purposeful, and productive year for every one of them. We have worked hard to prepare our buildings and grounds, and they look magnificent. Our custodial team and twelve-month employees spent long, long hours this summer preparing our schools to be sparkling and welcoming that first day. Also, many of our teachers have been participating in professional learning on topics ranging from reading, writing, and mathematics to social-emotional wellness. In fact, this week, our elementary-level teachers dedicated two days to immersing themselves in Bridges in Mathematics, which is the new elementary mathematics curriculum we are rolling-out this new school year as approved by our Board of Education last spring. I hope that you take a couple of minutes to watch our teachers in action in this video-story below.

Elementary Math Curriculum Roll-Out

Also, as a collective faculty and staff, we have recommitted to our three high-level goals:

High Quality Teaching and Learning: Engage every student in joyful, purposeful learning that appropriately challenges all students to ensure core content mastery and maximizes each student’s opportunity to excel academically.

Equity and Access: Assure that every student has access to multiple programs, services, activities and enrichment experiences that support student learning and enable each individual to achieve his or her fullest intellectual, creative, and social potential.

Wellness and Safety: Provide for the social, emotional, and physical health needs of students and staff and cultivate positive, identity-safe school environments that promote high levels of connection, engagement, and overall well-being throughout the school community.

To support these goals, the Board has made budget adjustments, cutting back in some areas and adding programs and services in others, especially to support our underresourced and historically underrepresented (HUR) students and families. To assure that we make progress on these three high level goals, we are developing a dashboard of specific metrics that include test scores, A-G completion, attendance, engagement, connection, and wellness measures. We will be reporting on these matters regularly. In September, the Board will approve the District Goals document, which contains the key work and action steps in each of the three goal areas along with desired intermediate targets and long-term outcomes.

In addition, we are striving to expand and improve communications beyond these weekly messages, the biweekly Board Report, and the monthly News You Can Use videos. I will be hosting "second cup of coffee" meetings, conducting some interactive "office hour" webinars, and am experimenting with Twitter. Check out @suptmaxmcgee!

The next Board meeting is scheduled for August 22. At that meeting, I will be summarizing the results of the Health Connected survey of parents, students, and teachers and outlining our next steps for teaching sexual health education in partnership with Health Connected and assuring that parents have ample opportunities to examine materials, attend presentations, and understand the "opt out" process and alternative resources well in advance of the classroom instruction. We also hope to have Board policies and administrative regulations for these three matters ready to approve in accordance with our Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights: 1312.3 Uniform Complaint Procedures, 5145.3 Nondiscrimination Harassment, and 5145.7 Sexual Harassment.

Along these lines, we launched an anonymous online reporting site for anyone to file a complaint regarding discrimination, sexual harassment, or bullying and are investing several hours in training all staff members in how to report and follow through with any incidents of sexual harassment that they see or hear. District and school administrators spent more than six hours engaged in in-depth training on sexual harassment prevention, legal and policy compliance issues, and handling incidents that occur both during and outside the regular school day. The high school faculty and staff participated in similar training this week, and the middle and elementary schools will have their training throughout the fall. As I emphasized to the staff during my opening presentation, we will assure that every child in every school has a safe, supportive environment in which to learn, and it is our job to immediately report and directly address any incidents which we see or hear.

At the beginning of each school year, I have an opportunity to address the staff. Earlier this week, I shared our vision and annual goals as well as provided some resources and helpful hints for improving teaching and learning, creating closer connections with students, and assuring equity and access for all students to the robust classes and enriching activities we offer. I also discussed the importance of a growth mindset for improving academic achievement, fostering student resilience, enhancing motivation and engagement, increasing belonging and care, and advancing a higher desire to learn. We shared resources from www.perts.net and also learned lessons from Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. A new resource was the principle of the "aggregation of marginal gains," which is one of the many life lessons from cycling I continue to discover.

This next week, Board members and I will be visiting all of the schools. If you see us around (we have name tags), please introduce yourself. Also, please be sure to welcome any new teachers or staff members to our extended family, and let's all lay out the red carpet for the new students and families. This summer, I have had the opportunity to meet some of our incoming students from as far afield as Singapore, Sweden, China, and Pakistan and as close as Menlo Park and Girls Middle School! We are so glad to embrace the wonderful diversity of our community, and you have my promise that I will do everything possible to assure that each and every one of our 12,455 students has a successful, engaging, and joyful school year.

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