August 20, 2012
TO: MESD staff
FR: Barbara Jorgensen
RE: Welcome Back 2012-13
In the world of education, it is traditional for superintendents, board chairs and principals to offer a “welcome back” message each year when school is about to resume.
At MESD, our calendar is a bit different than that of school districts.
Over the summer some of our programs continue to operate. Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention, Functional Living Skills ESY and Migrant Education staff have provided outstanding educational opportunities for students in July and early August.
In addition, many of our operations and school support staff have been here most of the summer working on projects and initiatives.
So while I offer a heartfelt “WELCOME BACK” to those who have been away, I know many of us have never left (except for a week here or there).
Is this a year of critical importance to MESD? Yes!
Without exaggeration, it is fair to state that 2012-13 is a year of critical importance to Multnomah ESD staff and the students, families, schools and partners we serve. Here’s why:
MESD’s response: Get out in front of these issues with proactive planning and actions
For the reasons listed above and because complacency on our part is not acceptable, the MESD Board and I have initiated a strategic planning process that will create a road map for meeting the challenges that confront us.
On August 6th the Board held its semi-annual planning session and invited the Cabinet to join them in discussing the process, goals and outcomes of a strategic plan. We settled on an aggressive timeline - completion of the plan will be accomplished no later than November 1, 2012.
We will be asking for the participation and input of every single MESD employee throughout this process. Your ideas and suggestions will be invaluable and will also engage all of us in the eventual success of our plan. Together, we can chart our future. I encourage everyone to respond to the research and survey tools that will be coming your way shortly.
Communication: Can we improve it? You bet!
Communication is an important part of leadership - and all of us are leaders in some fashion.
Whether we lead students in achieving the IEP goals, or are part of site-based collaborative teams, or are responsible for directing programs, how well we communicate internally and externally is a barometer of our effectiveness.
The Communications Survey sent out in May indicated there is room (lots of room) for improving communication at MESD. Responders to the survey (about 25% of our workforce) had this to say:
We appreciate the honesty and candor of the hundreds of comments we received. To partially address these concerns, we have drafted a new communication plan that will support our strategic plan. However, we don’t want to wait until November to institute some of the improvements.
So beginning on August 20th, we will publish a new online communication effort called “MESD All Access.” Every other Monday, every employee will receive this update in their email inbox. In the updates we will consolidate many emails that normally go to “all” and establish a regular and reliable tool that will keep everyone in the loop.
There will be other changes in our approach to communication that will come your way shortly. We hope these efforts improve our ability to do our jobs and convey accurate impressions of MESD to our partners and stakeholders.
Fun and community service: Fall Fling and Spruce Up-Alooza
Our work is serious but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a little time for fun. Please join me if you can on Wednesday, August 29 for the “Fall Fling” taking place at the Ainsworth Building. We will have some ice cream and some lighthearted games sponsored by each department (CUPCAKE WALK, FISHING FOR SUCCESS, KNOCK DOWN THE CAN AND MORE). Please join us!
On Saturday, September 22nd our third annual Spruce Up-Alooza will take place at Alpha School. This event will be similar to the ones held at Helensview (2010) and Thompson (2011) during which volunteers gathered for a morning of community service topped off by a wonderful picnic lunch. It has been great to see everyone get “down and dirty” as we chopped weeds, painted, hauled bark chips and planted flowers. This year’s event will focus on the community garden and native plant area adjacent to Alpha. It’s easy to sign up by going to the link on the MESD website.
In closing, the essence of my message is simple: We are in this together. We love what we do for all children. We have a unique opportunity to forge our future and continue to be a vital part of this educational community. Let’s make this year the best it can be as one team dedicated to our life’s work and mission.
Thanks again for your work, your dedication and your passion for education.