(Note: This letter was sent to all staff on August 29th as part of our Welcome Back activities.)
Welcome back. I hope you’ve had a restful summer, enjoyed time with family and friends, and like me, are looking forward to a new school year.
Although I’m no longer in the classroom full-time, I can’t help but feel that special energy that comes with the first days back to school. It’s hectic, but upbeat. There’s nothing quite like it, and it sets the tone for a very good year.
This will be my second year as Superintendent of Creswell School District, and I’m often asked for observations about the schools and community, and more important, for my expectations of the coming year.
Here is my most important observation: This school district is good and getting better all the time.
When I say this, I sometimes get a raised eyebrow or a look of confusion. It seems that the challenging financial situation of our state and our schools has convinced many people that a downward trend is inevitable. None of us know what the economics will be next year or the year after, but I absolutely do not believe that the education we are providing our students is destined to deteriorate. In fact, it will diminish only if we let it.
The level of parent and community support, and the commitment I see from you – our staff – tells me that we will succeed. I am confident that regardless of the financial picture, we will be able to prioritize and find new ways to ensure our students the high quality education they need in order to be prepared for the future they choose.
Money plays a big part in schools, but there are many other factors. Here in Creswell, I’ve observed a refreshing openness to finding solutions and to making changes that will deliver results that are good for Creswell students. I’ve witnessed a level of dedication to students that is unusual, and I see an entire community standing close, eager to help.
This is how I know we are positioned for success and for progress. Here are just a few examples of what we were able to accomplish last year, thanks in large part to you:
Improved achievement at all schools. The initiatives in our schools and dedication of our staff are positively impacting student achievement.
Oregon developed a new accountability system this summer that uses multiple measures to rate schools. For high schools, these measures include academic achievement, academic growth, and graduation rates. For elementary and middle schools, the first two measures are used. Schools receive an overall rating based on how well they are doing in each of these areas.
All three of our Creswell schools received a preliminary overall rating of Level 4 (Level 1 — the worst performers — to Level 5, the best performers). A more detailed review shows that we are outperforming many of our neighboring schools. This is directly attributable to you and our hard-working students.
Maintained a high school athletics and activities program. Please join me in thanking the high school coaches and advisors for their unprecedented support: All of our CHS coaches and advisors were volunteers last year. Their commitment of time and energy made it possible for high school students to pursue their interests and passions. Although this arrangement was not ideal, it was successful and enabled us to keep other programs intact.
Increased private financial support. The Music Boosters, CHS Athletic Boosters, and Creswell Education Foundation are energized and preparing more intentional approaches this year that will directly support our students, teachers, and programs. We are fortunate to have this great group of volunteers and the support of those who contribute to these funds.
These are just a few examples of the many ways we are working hard to ensure our students get what they need from the school experience. There are many more examples, both small and large. I encourage you to regularly visit our District website – www.creswell.k12.or.us – if you’d like to get more regular updates about our schools.
With that, please accept my thanks for your help and support this past year. I look forward to continuing our work together this year.