Over these first weeks of the new school year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in each of our schools.
Interacting in the classrooms with students and teachers, talking with our principals and specialists, and visiting with parents and community members gives me a great sense of optimism about our schools and for the upcoming year.
On the first day with students, I was struck by how quickly our teaching staff had engaged students both personally and academically. With our staff I’ve been discussing how students, like all people, know that relationships worth committing to are characterized by trust, mutual caring, and high expectations. Only with these components in our schools and classrooms, will students take the necessary academic risks required for high levels of learning.
In these first weeks of the new school year, I’ve been struck by how deeply and openly our staff members care about our children — and how quickly our classrooms have been transformed into safe havens of learning.
Now with our school year off to a strong start, we are beginning to work in earnest on a number of pressing initiatives we must fulfill over the next year and beyond. Our school board has set rigorous goals in four overarching areas: 1) increasing academic growth and success; 2) improving and maintaining the public’s trust; 3) supporting excellent staff; and 4) ensuring a positive, safe and inclusive learning environment.
After meeting with over 350 community and staff members, both individually and small groups since April, I believe these are the right goals for our school district.
The first goal, increasing our students’ success, is the ultimate mission of our school district — everything we do must directly support each student’s progress toward graduating from our schools ready to fully participate in the world around us; a world characterized by information exchange, change, technological advances, and working collaboratively with people from all corners of the world.
If our children are to have the opportunities we’ve dreamed for them, they must be solid readers and writers; they need to apply math and scientific thinking in solving problems; they need to be critical thinkers and persuasive debaters; and they need to develop the necessary interpersonal and multicultural skills required to work with teams of diverse people.
I invite you to review the board’s goals and my related goals posted on our website and to provide feedback as we set out to ensure each child’s success. With shrinking statewide funding for K-12 education, we must choose our strategies wisely and prioritize our efforts to achieve the demanding targets set forth by our school board.
To make giving feedback easier and less formal, I invite our community to have a cup of coffee and a snack with me on the following dates:
n Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m. at Parkdale Elementary School
n Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m. at Cascade Locks Elementary School
n Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m. at Hood River Middle School
n Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m. at Mid Valley Elementary School
I genuinely believe that schools are the ultimate reflection of a community’s priorities — how we collectively raise a child says so much about who we are and who we want to be. With a shared vision and shared goals, and with mutual trust and high expectations, I know we can amplify the success of each student and build a bright future together.
Dan Goldman joined Hood River County School District as superintendent July 1.