It's time again to revisit how school closing decisions are made and communicated related to Minnesota winter weather. When weather is questionable, I will be in contact with our transportation director, public safety and transportation officials, and area superintendents. Our transportation director or I may choose to drive some of the most difficult roads to confirm conditions on the ground. Our goal is to make a decision by 5:30 a.m. or no later than 6 a.m., as we have employees rolling into work by that time.
Education is a quality-of-life investment. Most of us parents embrace this concept as we nudge our children toward college or some kind of post-secondary training, hoping they will find their spark and a successful career. Some parents take this understanding further and work hard to provide their children with purposeful trips and educational experiences during their school years.
“Whoever tells the stories defines the culture.” I first heard this quote when listening to Dr. David Walsh ( www.drdavewalsh.com ) lecture about the impact of media on our children. He is a wonderful author and speaker on the topic of parenting, and I wish we could hand every new parent a copy of his books. On the day I heard Dave sharing this quote he was explaining how the culture of each civilization has been defined by the storytellers in the community. In generations past that largely included elders, teachers, pastors, parents and community or tribal leaders.
One of the most challenging topics to communicate about in public education is finance. The constant debates that are a necessary part of our democratic system of government create many misperceptions about the numbers. In addition, there are so many different revenue streams and variables to consider in each stream that it’s a complicated topic to understand in the first place! As a community we do need to understand it at a basic level, however, to engage in meaningful conversations about the future of our district and how to align our resources.
Over the past three months our community has offered a lot of meaningful input about the future of education here in the Pequot Lakes School District. We’ve heard from our parents, our local business leaders, our communities of faith, our teachers and staff, and our elected officials. Through an online survey, a public input listening session, and through many forums with community groups we have gathered a healthy amount of input that is now being analyzed and synthesized by our school board and district leaders.
I was in third grade when Mom took me in to see the eye doctor. It was no surprise as both of my parents and all of my sisters wore glasses, and I had started the classic squinting look to see the chalkboard in school. I’ll never forget when my glasses came in and we went to get them fitted. The old doctor got them sized in pretty close and put them on me. I looked out the window and for the first time I could see clearly across the parking lot — and even past the next building!
A few weeks ago, I was able to enjoy the remarkable experience of bringing my son deer hunting for the first time with him being able to take part in the action. We followed all of the annual traditions of hanging clothes outside for a couple of weeks, making a few runs to get gear and food, lining up our licenses and checking the lists in my head every night that week (of course, we would never write anything down when planning for a hunting trip!).
As any leader does in the first several months of a new position, my first three months in Pequot Lakes has been a whirlwind effort to learn about the community, to begin establishing relationships and to assess the current reality of our school district.