From the superintendent: Welcome back teachers, staff, students

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Dear Colleagues:

Here we go—another school year begins! I know the summer went too quickly, but I’m also very, very happy to be back doing what I love – changing children’s lives for the better.

I hope that’s why you’re here, too – because you love the work of education. And make no mistake about it, it’s work, but it’s a labor of love. I honestly believe that what we do in our school buildings and classrooms is some of the most important work in our society today. I am proud to support that work, and grateful for the thousands of you who do the same.

So much has been done to ensure that this year is our best ever:

Our elementary teachers will have access to more professional development this year, especially in math, so that we can see some of the same success in other grades that we saw in 5th grade MCA scores last year.

Our middle school teachers will benefit from professional development and new resources geared toward classroom management to ensure the calm, respectful school environments most conducive to learning.

Our high schools will have a laser-like focus on freshmen, with the goal of giving them the support they need to stay connected to their school communities, attend class regularly and stay on track for graduation.

We also want to communicate better to our families and students this year. One way is through welcome-back videos that can be found in English, Hmong, Spanish, Somali and Karen.

Two other student-centered videos emphasize keys to success, and classroom and school expectations as outlined in our Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. I just love these videos and think they’re a great way to reach our students.

Staff and families can reach us by staying connected through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or via a new webpage called Trending@SPPS. Here we are tracking the latest buzz, providing answers when we have them, and giving people the opportunity to write in their questions.

Finally, as we move into Strong Schools, Strong Communities 2.0, I would like us to reflect on our ongoing focus on racial equity and providing an equitable education to all SPPS students.

While racial equity is just one of our five areas of focus in 2.0, it must be woven throughout the entire plan – personalized learning, ready for college and career, excellent PreK-12 programs, and systems that support a premier education.

Whether we’re talking about Personalized Learning, lunch rooms or graduation, we need to consider the role race plays. Are all students being treated equitably? Are the systems in place allowing equitable opportunities for students of all races? Are we honoring the experience each student or family brings to the table?

When we can answer “yes” to these questions, and when we have the courage to take action when the answer is “no,” we will be providing our students with the kind of amazing education that will send their scores soaring and maximize  the possibility in their lives.

I dream of the day.

Let’s work together to make that dream a reality. Together, we can do anything. Have a spectacular 2014-2015.

Your very proud superintendent,

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Valeria S. Silva