Superintendent's Message - Dr. Becky Berg
you so much for visiting our website and for your interest in the Marysville
Superintendent's Working AssumptionsAll of us bring a core set of values, or assumptions, to work with us every day. These assumptions provide the basis upon which we make decisions and take action. Although I am always learning and trying to improve my thinking, I most often operate from the following working assumptions:
• Our purpose is to improve the learning and lives of each student, in each classroom, every single day. In the words of Larry Bell, "Even on our worst day we are some child's best hope". This core belief drives me daily. Our United States public school system is charged with the noble mission of reaching each student, despite their circumstance. No excuses. We must relentlessly champion equity and excellence for all.
• We must attend to the needs of the whole child - not just their achievement in math and language arts. Every student deserves to feel safe, healthy, supported, engaged, and challenged.
• Our role as educators is to be brokers of hope. We are the optimists. We believe we can get it done - and that our students are marvels. No one can deter us.
• We must improve our schools from within. Our educators and staff members are remarkable human beings. If given the time and tools necessary, we can do this work. We do not need outside consultants and legislation to 'fix' us. Instead, with professional development, interdependent teams, access to research, and time - we know what we need to do to this important work and to take collective action.
• We are never 'there' as a system. As our society is constantly changing, so does what it takes to be well educated. Our job as leaders is to create cultures of continuous inquiry and reflective practice.
• We must focus on evidence of student learning, rather than our intentions or philosophies. If students learn more with a particular approach, then it is our obligation to use that approach. Adults bickering over pedagogy does not help students in the end.
Our job as leaders is to live the value of 'reciprocal
accountability'. This means that if we ask people to complete certain
tasks, we need to provide them with the tools, training, and time necessary to
do it well.
I am a serial optimist - and this is the most renewing work I can
imagine doing. Thank you for your partnership in
building our future - together!
Superintendent's Entry Plan: "Hit the Ground Learning"
When new Superintendents are hired, there is unique window of opportunity that results. A metaphor for this lies in the medical profession. Doctors understand the urgency of the hour after a physical trauma / accident has occurred by referring to it as the ‘golden hour’. When a new leader comes into a district, it is like the ‘golden hour’ of learning. This time is a chance to see a situation with new eyes, and to gather comprehensive information in order to understand the new setting.
The purpose of this plan is for Dr. Berg to develop a deep, working knowledge and understanding of the Marysville School District and communities of Marysville and Tulalip – their cultures, traditions, history and expectations. This knowledge will not only inform the work of the Superintendent, but district leaders and the Board of Directors as well. This will provide valuable information that will feed into the efforts of the district to plan for the future.
When this work is completed, the district will have:
This entry plan is organized into three distinct stages:Stage 1: Listening and Learning
o July 1 – December 31, 2013Stage 2: Synthesis
o January 1 – February 28, 2014
Stage 3: ‘So What?’
o March 1 – June 15, 2014
Stage 1: Listening and Learning
When we try to understand whether a student is learning, or whether a school is successful, it is critical that we look at the student or school through multiple lenses, instead of at just one indicator like a state test. The same is true for a district. The strategies in this plan are intended to include a wide variety of perspectives, of observations, and of documents. If, when reviewing this plan the reader realizes that an important ‘lens’ is missing, please contact Dr. Berg at 360-653-0800.
Strategies: Dr. Berg will conduct the following activities in Stage 1:
Guiding Questions: Whether it is individual, in-person meetings, or in groups, or while reviewing documents, this work is guided by three guiding questions:
1) What do you want to see preserved in the Marysville School District?
2) What do you think needs to be changed or improved?
3) What do you need from a Superintendent?
It is understood that there are many more questions than these that will arise dependent upon the context or role of the person being interviewed, but these three will be present in all of the interactions described.
Stage 2: Synthesis
This stage represents where one turns raw data into usable information. Dr. Berg will examine the data and look for themes and observations, as well as “outlier’ information that may not be shared by multiple sources – but that may be helpful in troubleshooting issues. This will be developed not from a position as expert, but more from a position as reflecting the findings back to the participants, such as, “This is what I heard. Did I get it right?”
The report will be shared with the Board of Directors, administrative team, staff and community members in order to generate shared knowledge as seen through the multiple lenses.
Stage 3: ‘So What?’
As with many endeavors, the difficulty is not in the execution of a plan, but in reflecting upon the learning and forging a direction for the future. ‘So what’ if we have this great information – but we don’t use it to improve learning for our students? Then we have failed.
The information gained in Stage 1, and analyzed in Stage 2, will inform the Board of Directors and leadership in looking ahead. Successful organizations have a laser-like focus on a few key initiatives that become the work of the organization and around which fiscal and human resources can be prioritized. This information will be a part of the information considered when charting our future course.
It is hoped that this process will help to reassure stakeholders during a transition of leadership and provide solid input for future strategic goal setting. It will also begin the process of the Superintendent building personal relationships across the community. Although the Marysville School District is thriving, continuously striving until 100% of our students graduate and go on to lead happy and productive lives is a mission that calls each and every one of us to action. In the words of Max DePree, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
Note: May of the ideas in this document have been informed by Ron Cabrera, Superintendent of Thomson School District, Colorado; Dr. James McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools, Tennessee; First 100 Days Workplan, Los Angeles Unified School District; Dr. Mike Dunn, ESD 101, Spokane, Washington; Albert Adams, “Entry: The Door to Effective Headship”; and, Dr. Greg Baker, Superintendent of Bellingham School District, Washington.
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