We sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on the negative things in life and failing to acknowledge the positives. Today was the first full day of school for more than 7,500 Sun Prairie Area School District students and there were many positives that we need to acknowledge and celebrate. Sure, there were things did not go perfectly. Some student IDs were incorrectly printed, a few buses ran behind, and probably many students or teachers had something not go as they would have liked. But what about the “successes” of today?
What went right?
· More than 3600 students had a safe school bus ride to and from school. Our buses serve the 79 square miles contained in our school district (Did you know our district spans from Home Depot in the South to Columbia County in the north?).
· We are set to serve over 4500 students at breakfast, lunch or both at school on Wednesday. There will be healthy choices available. For some students these were the most balanced meals of their day. For too many students, these will be their only meals of the day. Our cooks and food servers are amazing!
· Almost 700 professional educators welcomed students, helped them find their classes, began the teaching process and in general did an exceptional job. This does not happen by random chance. Most teachers spend much of their summer preparing for the next school year so that things start well.
· Schools were sparkling and grounds were taken care of. Our maintenance staff and custodians spent the summer making sure windows were fixed, roofs were repaired, floors were waxed, HVAC was adjusted and, in general, getting schools ready for kids. On my visits, I enjoyed hearing how proud staff members were of how the buildings looked.
· Eastside and Bird School had secure entrances installed over the summer and I observed staff and parents celebrating this new way to enter school that is both more welcoming and more secure.
· About 400 secretaries and other support staff greeted students and parents, and we all know that as the year goes along, these people will handle thousands of tasks and every one of which will in some way impact students and families.
· District administrators, principals and School Board Members spent much of their time making sure the district is focused on doing what is right for students. The coordination of 7,500 students, 1,100 staff, and 12 school buildings is a year-round process.” This work culminated in a “first day of school” that was an overall success!
People will say it’s my job to put a positive spin on things. But honestly, ‘first days’ don’t always go perfectly. Today, I want to focus on what went right, what we did successfully, and celebrate those moments. Every year, I plan to share our first day of school “numbers” with you.
Were there problems and glitches? Certainly. Are they insurmountable? While some are tougher to solve than others, great people can almost always find solutions and improvements. The main thing we need to do is keep our focus on the ultimate vision, and for the Sun Prairie Area School District that means “All students, families, school employees, and community members unified by mutual respect and the shared purpose of seeking successful learning for every student.”
Please share “what went right” with us from time to time. When educators or support staff members do a great job -- tell them (and me!). When your kids experience success – celebrate them! Please, when you see something that needs to be improved – tell those most directly involved, and be part of the solution. Join me in seeking this balance this and every school year.
Best wishes to you and your students for a great year,