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Posted: January 20, 2017

Five Priorities and Feeder School Communities

In her weekly message to employees, Superintendent Reedy outlines her plan for making APS into a premier district.

Before I became a district administrator, I was the lead principal for a cluster of neighborhood schools – elementary and middle schools that fed into a high school. The students at Mitchell Elementary where I was principal would go on to attend Hoover Middle School and then Eldorado High, so it made sense that I worked closely with educators at those schools as well as others in the area.  

We had a lot in common. Our students played in the same parks and on the same teams. Their families shopped in the same stores and ate at the same restaurants. Many of their parents, sometimes even their grandparents, grew up together.

Our community, like others across the district, shared many values, including what they wanted and needed from their public schools. It wasn’t always the same across Albuquerque. One part of town might demand dual language schools, for example, while another might expect schools to serve as hubs for services. It was important for us as educators to listen to our communities, to get to know our families, to understand the needs of our students in order to best serve them.

Though not perfect, this organizational approach offered some excellent ways to bring schools, families and communities together, which is why we, once again, are looking at ways to connect feeder school communities. We will be augmenting and moving this concept forward in the coming months. 

One way we’re doing this is by conducting monthly “rounds” at schools across the district. Similar to hospital rounds made by doctors, school rounds involve colleagues – in our case associate superintendents and neighboring principals – making visits to provide feedback on a focus area of improvement selected by the school. The rounds have been very effective, resulting in enhanced dialogue and collaboration among our feeder school communities.

Of course, families and neighbors play a critical part in this process, helping us to take a more personalized approach to education that meets the unique needs of our students. That is why I have made family and community engagement one of my priorities as superintendent.

Other priorities:  

  • Early Learning
  • College and Career Readiness and
  • Emphasis on the Whole Child
  • Attendance

If these sound familiar, they should. We have been examining these issues as we develop the APS Academic Master Plan, a roadmap for the district developed with much input from those who have a stake in public education.

I recently signed an extended contract with the Board of Education; now I’d like to enter into a contract with our students, employees, families and communities to turn Albuquerque Public Schools into New Mexico’s premier district with all of our students prepared to become successful, fulfilled individuals.

We’re off to a pretty good start. This week, it was announced that our graduation rate increased by more than 4 percentage points for the Class of 2016. I want to stress that the hard work of teachers, principals, counselors, students and parents is what moves the dial for us. And though we’re not anywhere near where we want to be, we’re moving in the right direction and intend to continue this forward momentum. 

We're going to improve faster than we ever have before.

You may ask how? By focusing on early learning, college and career readiness, the whole child, attendance and family and community engagement.

Get used to hearing me say this. No, not just say it. Get ready for change. We are listening, analyzing, adjusting, re-emphasizing. We are getting rid of what doesn’t work and expanding what does. We are evolving.

We need to make sure our students are reading by the third grade, which means we can’t wait until they are in kindergarten to begin teaching them. We need to work with our preschoolers, our young parents, our expectant mothers and fathers.

We need to improve the educational experience of our secondary students so that they all earn a high school diploma and move on to college and careers. This will involve getting more students to pass their classes – including algebra – on the first try. It will also mean helping them find their passion and providing them with real-world opportunities through internships, shadowing opportunities, and mentorships supported by the local business community.

Of course, our students can’t succeed if they’re not in school, so we need to emphasize attendance. We will do a better job of monitoring absences, staying in touch with parents, helping students and families appreciate the value of going to class. 

Often, when children miss school it’s because there are other things going on in their lives. Hunger, unemployment, illness, trauma. We have to embrace the whole child and meet their needs so that they can be successful in the classroom. This means working with organizations and businesses that have just as much at stake as we do.   

This is heady stuff. It will take a lot of work. In some cases, it will mean a shift in attitude. But we have good, dedicated people in our schools and across the district. I’ve witnessed that first-hand, and I know you – like me – want what’s best for our students. You want to see them succeed. Why else would we be in this profession?

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle these five priorities. Join me!