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Posted: January 15, 2016

Supt. Reedy: Listening Tour is Powerful

The superintendent is visiting with some of our families in the intimate settings of their homes in an effort to start a meaningful dialogue with those we serve.

Dear Colleagues,

 

As I shared pizza and pasta with some of our families in their homes this week, I was struck by how the parents leaned in when their children talked about school. These parents take parenting seriously, and they care very much about what's happening in their children's classrooms and hallways, on their playgrounds and campuses.

It made me think about the tremendous influence we as educators have, not only on the students we teach, but also on the families who love them and the communities that support them. Encouragement, patience and open lines of communications go a long way, but so do disparaging words, negativity and cynicism. 

I've been visiting with some of our families in the intimate settings of their homes as part of what we're calling the Superintendent's Listening Tour. It's an effort to start a meaningful dialogue with those we serve. How are we doing? What can we do better? Where should be go from here? What does our future look like?

We'll use the feedback from these conversations to help develop our Academic Master Plan and other strategies for educating our students. And while the conversations are personal, they carry universal themes. All of the parents we've talked to so far - and I'm guessing almost all of our parents and guardians - want us to see their children as the unique and special individuals they are. They expect us to treat them with dignity and to meet their needs. They want to know when problems arise; they get frustrated when they're not informed.


Can you blame them?


The one-on-one conversations I've been having with these families who welcomed me into their homes reinforce how important interaction is between school and home. But we also have to keep in mind that these families - our families - are overburdened. It's a daily struggle of work and bills, school and activities, household chores and family obligations, heck even taking care of pets. We shouldn't be so quick to judge parents who don't check online grades or go through their child's backpack or miss a teacher conference. Instead, we should figure out how we might improve communications and our relationships with them.

While these visits have provided a glimpse into the real challenges families face, they also have been reaffirming and uplifting. What a special time living with children who are school age. And how wonderful it is to see just how much children love and admire their parents.


I'm looking forward to visiting several more families as part of the Listening Tour over the next few weeks, and to sharing with you their input as we work on a plan to better serve our constituents.

 

Kind regards, 

Raquel  Reedy
APS Superintendent