At the time of this writing, I have been the proud Superintendent of the Roaring Forks Schools for 134 days. It’s hard to believe that next week I’ll be celebrating my seven month anniversary! As I approach this milestone, I want to share with our community some of the things I’ve learned during my tenure as superintendent that I recommend as next steps for our district.
Last spring, during my visit to Roaring Forks Valley as a candidate, I spoke with stakeholders about context-aware design. It is the decision-making process used to build a highway through Glenwood Canyon that allowed stakeholders to participate in the design process by talking about what natural beauty needed to be preserved if a highway were to be built through the canyon. Not to mention, building a highway through the canyon was once considered impossible, so preserving the natural beauty also required creativity and innovation in engineering.
It seemed fitting and random to me that I would take a similar approach to my job this year as Superintendent, if I am selected.
As a candidate, I created a 100 day entry plan. In short, my entry plan was and still is: listen and learn about what we need to preserve, where we need to innovate, and create a long-term, community-informed plan to accomplish our mission. I had the opportunity to hear in different ways from staff, parents, students, and community members, and there were some new topics – both about what we should keep and where we should try something new.
In my Entry Plan, I have shared my personal beliefs and core values that are critical to who I am as an individual and as a leader. Since becoming Superintendent, I have had the opportunity to formally share them with our community, but I also hope that I have been able to demonstrate this through my actions and communications with staff, students, parents, and members of the community at large. .
Beliefs and Core Values
Here are five goals I have set for myself this year:
1. Maintain a trusting, productive, collaborative relationship with our board of directors.
2. Provide a strong change in leadership with a focus on accelerating achievement.
3. Conducting listening and learning sessions in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
4. Learn about the values, norms, expectations and culture of our three municipalities and the county as a whole.
5. Focus on reducing performance gaps between subgroups of students and improving the performance of all students.
I am proud to say that I have largely achieved the expectations and goals set out in my introductory plan. Here are some of the key actions I have taken to achieve these goals:
- Conducting small group meetings with staff through thank you dinners
- Overview of the current strategic plan and overview of its implementation
- Holding 1:1 meetings with identified key stakeholders and organizations
- Analysis of 2021-2022 academic achievement and growth data
- Visiting each school in each community multiple times
- Hosting community forums for parents and community members through coffee chats
- Examining and evaluating how our current organizational structure supports our district’s vision
- Begin study rounds with study group and campus leaders
Based on these actions, and listening to and learning from our community, I recommend the following steps to the Board of Education for our district:
- Begin the strategic planning process this spring by collaboratively developing the school’s alumni profile and the district’s core values, and then begin a broader strategic planning process this fall;
- Continue to focus on policy updates such as our graduate requirements because as a superintendent one of my primary responsibilities is to enforce policy through the development and implementation of regulations;
- Adopt our recommended Learning Acceleration Plan, which will strategically support teachers and school leaders to reduce student achievement gaps and improve the achievement of all;
- Prioritize housing solutions for current and future employees so we can attract and retain our talented educators. Define our learning priorities for 2023-2024 to help guide our 2023-2024 Unified Improvement Plan process, including communicating our strategic priorities and initiatives.
Each of these recommendations is based on careful listening and study of our community – many anecdotes from our community that support these recommendations for the next steps.
I will present these recommendations to our board of education at the board meeting next Wednesday. In addition, our Director of Academic Affairs will present our Learning Acceleration Plan, which will be acted upon by the Board, at the upcoming Board of Directors meeting.
Although the days of my introductory plan as superintendent have come to an end, I remain committed to listening and learning from our community, and I look forward to implementing these recommended next steps with you to fulfill our mission. which we guarantee to every student. develops the resilient knowledge, skills and character needed to thrive in a changing world.
Dr. Jesus Rodriguez is Superintendent of Roaring Fork County Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.