This, my first regular article authored for the Arlington Citizen, is filled with gratitude. Thank you for extending such a warm welcome to my family and me as we learn to call Arlington home.
I am thankful for the faculty and staff, including all of our teachers, paraeducators, maintenance and custodians, school nurse and kitchen staff. These amazing people work so hard, all for the common goal of success for our students. Each one is a special piece of the puzzle, making a difference in the lives of your children every day.
I am grateful for an amazing administrative team, consisting of our principals Aaron Pfingsten, Jacque Morgan and James Shada and our curriculum director Nichole Fairhead. This is a group of dedicated, intuitive and caring leaders and this school is blessed to have their leadership. Each brings unique ideas and perspectives, and they work independently and collectively to establish a culture that is conducive to student achievement at all levels. Their energy is contagious and they have made this such an easy transition!
Without the efficiency of our office staff members, this place would simply fall apart. I appreciate these awesome people for having great ideas and all of the answers (yes, I have a lot of questions). Also, I am quickly becoming aware of how effective this APS Board of Education is, and I am truly enjoying our development of a smooth working relationship.
My first weeks have been what I would describe as very task-oriented. I have been attending many local events to meet you all. There are many items that have deadlines this time of year; many state reports and federal grant applications, for example, and the budget. There are finance and school management systems (new to me) that I have been learning to use with some semblance of fluency. And, perhaps most importantly, I’m learning to be a PC person (the Mac users out there know what I’m talking about).
The next few months, I will continue to listen, learn and take good notes. Every district has cultural norms that have been in place and adhered to for many years. There are established groups among our APS family that provide leadership in different areas and I am prepared to fully embrace and understand the purpose of each. In order to contribute effectively to all groups, I will need to be in rhythm with the heartbeat of APS. Being an individual not necessarily blessed with patience, I’m forgiving myself for not knowing all of these things right now.
One final thought: Due to the sad events surrounding the safety of students traveling to school in our region recently, I would ask you to pay particular attention during your commute, keeping the safety of our students in mind. Please adhere to speed limits at all times, stop for school buses with the stop arms extended and lights flashing and keep your eyes open for students walking to and from school. The compulsion to arrive at a destination quickly should never supersede the security of children. We love them all and want them here safely every day.
Dawn Lewis is superintendent of Arlington Public Schools.