From School Board President Cranor to Deputy Superintendent Wooden: Thank You

Nevada Succeeds always likes to highlight the partnerships and collaborations that are moving Nevada forward. Yesterday morning, Clark County School Board Trustees Erin Cranor and Stavan Corbett jointly hosted a meeting of President Cranor’s ongoing “Parents & Community PAC”, where parents and guardians can come and ask questions of not only their Trustee, but of any special guests that are in attendance as well.

At yesterday’s meeting, Clark County Deputy Superintendent Kim Wooden was one such special guest. Kim spoke to the 70+ parents and community members in attendance for some 2 hours regarding Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky’s vision for CCSD and the work that has been done in the different work stream committees he has convened. Kim patiently listened to every member of the community that was in attendance and really demonstrated an incredible commitment to engagement on the part of CCSD.

President Cranor wrote an open letter of thanks to Kim for her efforts, and we think its important that this message be broadcast for the greater community to see:

Dear Kim,

There are all kinds of school system leaders in this country today.  The leader rapidly shifting the collective mindset of a large urban district into return-on-investment mode is not the leader one would expect to see visibly moved by the experience of meeting parents of students in the system.

Yet that is what I saw yesterday morning.

While Superintendent Skorkowsky was meeting with students at a nearby high school, 70 parents and a handful of other community leaders gathered in a community room at Vegas PBS for a first look at a plan he is developing, in collaboration with you, other members of his team (from teachers in the library to his cabinet), and our community.  The task is nothing short of transformation of a school system that seeks much better, odds-defying successes in the lives of the young people who enter our schools each day.

Before you presented that first look, each of us in the room took a few seconds to share: name, school(s) my children attend, why I am here.

That experience meant something to you, and it showed.

Then you shared a first look at the plan, and you listened.  You listened actively and you listened long.  The meeting went 20 minutes past its closing time, and then you listened and talked with parents one-on-one for nearly another hour.

In the few months you have been serving as Deputy Superintendent of this school district, I have watched your business brain bring behind-the-scenes results that mean better dollar-for-dollar investment in the classroom, where resources count the most.  I have watched with appreciation as you have remorselessly done away with programs and spending that had not brought that return on investment that you seek.  I have seen part of this school district’s first-ever data-integrated strategy to mitigate the hazard impact of failing school facility air conditioning, plumbing, and roofing systems on daily classroom learning. I have been impressed with your frank and direct facing of the facts about priorities, finances, what works, and what doesn’t work.

Yesterday morning was something I’d never watched, never expected, and never seen to the degree I saw as you and a large and diverse group of parents (including me!) worked together, in two languages no less, to refine a big-picture map to student success.

There are some shiny, flashy, spinny reforms sweeping some places in this country.  There are some other communities that have long cultivated quality learning relationships, worked hard and collaboratively, achieved steadily and, under the radar of the reform rancor, have improved upon greatness for their children.

Here is our community, that has been through rough times at every level, that seems to be waking up now to what to do about the fact that we love our children no matter the odds they face, that seems to be growing up into a place where leaders lead and collaborate and generate success, that feels and looks promising in many ways, yet acknowledges past experience: there are no guarantees.

This is a community that needs education reform that is sustainable.  We are parents who need to be part of what works.  What happens here has got to be real, and it has to last, and it can’t wait.

And yesterday was real.

Thank you.


P.S. Attached, two pictures posted to Twitter by Nevada Succeeds, a business leaders’ reform group in attendance yesterday.  Their tweets about this meeting have been re-tweeted to over 13,000 so far.

active listening