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Reflections from a Grateful Superintendent: A Message from Dr. Glass

Reflections from a Grateful Superintendent: A Message from Dr. Glass
Posted on 05/04/2018

Superintendent Dr. Jason GlassIn just a few weeks, we’ll begin the series of celebrations that take place in our schools to commemorate the end of the school year and mark important transitions for our students.

Graduations and continuations are special moments in our lives, and I approach them with deep respect and reverence; not only for the students we celebrate, but also the families, educational staff, and communities that made these moments possible.

It was about this time last year, that I wrote my first Chalk Talk for Jeffco Public Schools. I was still the Superintendent in Eagle County and was working feverishly to end my time there well, while also learning all I could about Jeffco in order to hit the ground running when I officially began last July.

As I’ve reflected on this year, I consider some of the significant events and challenges we went through together. Consider some of the changes we’ve experienced:

  • A New Superintendent – While I worked to move slowly at first, a new leader with a new way of seeing and doing things brings some level of disruption and change to an organization and community. I am grateful for the welcoming and support I received from so many people in our community to help my entry into Jeffco be successful.
  • Some Key Early Moves – Once I took the reins of Jeffco last summer, almost immediately, we were faced with a couple of important questions that needed to be answered. The first question related to further school closures. The second related to how we would execute the planned sixth-grade transition to middle school. We created a multi-year and multi-step plan to handle the sixth-grade transition and build a communication plan along with it. I also decided to declare a two-year moratorium on school closures to give us time to consider what enrollment changes would look like after the sixth-graders moved to middle school across Jeffco.
  • A New Organizational Direction – In October, we released Jeffco Generations, a new strategic vision for the district. While this effort built on some previous work already underway, it also marked a serious shift in how we approached instruction and preparing our students for their future. Our school organization has had to adapt to this new direction, and still is.
  • A Board Election – The November Board election created some degree of angst and contention in the community. Many wondered if it would lead to another period of disruption and tumult. Ultimately, the incumbent board members were re-elected by a wide margin, and we’ve worked hard to try and put the political divisiveness Jeffco has been known for behind us and refocus our attention on the main thing: learning.
  • A School Shooting in Florida – Fast forwarding to this year, the Parkland shooting created reverberations across the country and certainly here in Jeffco with our history of school violence. For weeks, we had school safety hoaxes, pranks, and false threats that were called in, which triggered massive police investigations, increased schools security, and more than one late-night or early morning communication to parents and families when we weren’t able to clear the threat overnight. Thankfully, this has subsided, but this was a very disruptive and disturbing period for everyone.
  • Student Walk-Outs and Protests on School Safety – Also in the wake of the Parkland shooting, we had mass organized student walk-outs on the issue of school safety and gun control. With no easy answers available, we worked to find a political middle ground, which kept our students safe and ensured an orderly demonstration, but also respected the voices of our young people.
  • Staff Funding Protests – Just last week, thousands of Jeffco employees took personal leave or unpaid leave to protest school funding at the capitol. This labor shortage caused us to call a non-student contact day due to the safety and supervision concerns we had at schools. I deeply understand where our teachers and staff are coming from in their advocacy for school funding and my record on that matter is clear. However, I do understand the disruption this created for families across Jeffco.

This completes my eighth year as a system leader; five years as a school superintendent in Colorado and three years a state education leader in Iowa. Without hesitation, I would say that this has been the most challenging from a leadership perspective, given all these changes and disruptions. Still, I’m proud of how our schools have responded to these issues, and the thousands of other everyday crises that occur in our schools on a daily basis. In spite of the challenges, Jeffco Public Schools has delivered with professionalism and grace and I’m proud of our team, our students, and our community.

Real leaders are called to serve where there is conflict and struggle – where the work is not easy, the path is not clear, and the burden is often heavy. Getting to do this kind of important work is why I came to Jeffco. It’s been tough at times, but I’ve loved every minute of it.

We’ve got just 14 days of school left in this school year. We are going to work to make each one be engaging and purposeful for our students. While we’re focused on finishing this school year strong, I’m even more excited about what 2018-19 will bring.
On a personal note, I want all of you to know how proud and privileged I am to serve as your Superintendent, and for our kids to grow up together here in Jeffco. Let’s finish 2017-18 with gusto!

Jeffco students, parents, families, staff, and community members may engage with Dr. Glass via Facebook, Twitter @COJasonGlass, and through his blog, advancejeffco.blog.

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