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Superintendent's News

Posted: May 21, 2021

A Good Kind of Tired

In his final message to employees for the 2020-2021 school year, Supt. Elder writes about this year's accomplishments and plans for the future.

I am tired, but it’s a good tired. That feeling you get when you have worked hard and given your all.

This has been a give-your-all kind of year. There was little time for ease and comfort, no room for complacency. Anytime we felt as if we were getting into a groove, another pandemic wrinkle upended our routine. It is dizzying to look back at all the accommodations, adjustments, and about-faces we made to ensure our students continued to get a quality education in a safe setting. 

Our students did learn and grow this year, even if some of that learning is unfinished. Despite all the virus threw at us, we persisted in our mission, knowing that our responsibility to the children of this community is too important. Giving up was never an option, so we figured out how to teach and support kids in unprecedented circumstances – over and over and over again.

I bet you’re tired, too. I hope it’s a good tired. You deserve to feel positive about all we have accomplished in one of the most trying school years in modern history.

So, what do you do when you’re tired? You take a break. You get some rest.

Thank goodness for summer break! 

If you are like me, even as the pace slows and you can take a little time off, you will still be thinking about what lies ahead. That’s what good educators do. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we can improve the educational experiences and outcomes for all of our students. Like public school districts across the nation, APS faces a host of challenges, competing priorities, and increasing student needs. We must look at the symptoms of our problems and the root causes, going beyond change for change’s sake. We need a better understanding of what needs to change, why it’s not working, and how we can improve.   

I met with the APS Board of Education on this very topic recently. It was a good discussion that centered on five pillars: 

  • Ensuring equity and access for all students and staff
  • Supporting high-quality, equity-driven instruction for every student
  • Supporting social and emotional learning
  • Maintaining effective and efficient operations
  • Engaging staff and community.

As you begin thinking and planning for the coming school year, please keep these five priorities in mind. They will be our focus as we prepare a more comprehensive, guided, and structured strategic plan for 2021-2022 and beyond.

This seems like a good time to remind you to complete the survey I sent earlier this week on envisioning a student-centered, 21st-century classroom. You can revisit the survey anytime in the next week to add and expand on ideas. I genuinely mean it when I say your input as a member of the APS team matters.

I also ask that you consider our many estranged students and families who got lost during the pandemic. You are goodwill ambassadors for your schools and the district, and I encourage you to reach out to them and welcome them back. We want and need all of our students back on our campuses in August. 

As I sign off for summer, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent. It has been a blessing and an honor. 

Get some rest. I’ll see you soon.