Interim Superintendent's Message, Back to School Event, August 2015

  • On August 25, 2015 MESD held a Back-to-School & Wellness Event at Wheatley School.  The following are the Superintendent's Opening Remarks:

    Welcome & Acknowledgments

    Welcome to the MESD Back to School & Wellness Event.  I hope you all had good summers. It’s great to have everyone here. I’m Jim Rose, your Interim Superintendent. 

    Before we get too settled in please help me thank Steffannie Roache’ and Teresa Lay, the organizers of today’s event.  Without them today would not have been possible.   A big thank you to the Wheatley staff for opening their “home.” I also want to welcome our Board members who have volunteered their time to be here today.

    Some of you are just starting your employment with MESD.  Welcome, you are joining a tremendous group of people.

    The People of MESD

    When people ask me who works for MESD, it’s easy for me to answer – we are people who want to help kids. In a recent Portland Tribune article, we are described as people “serving students that others can’t or won’t serve."  We are people who see the enormous potential in every student, and we help them on their often difficult and bumpy journey.

    Serving students requires heart, intelligence and wisdom, extensive training and skills, compassion and kindness, and often a sense of humor.  We are fortunate to have people like this working at MESD.

    We have people:

    • Facilitating Yoga Calm at an elementary school
    • Helping a teen who says “I overdosed last night”
    • Creating health management plans for students with unique and complex health needs
    • Participating on school safety committees and teaching health education
    • Ensuring the health and safety of students and the community by mitigating the impact of communicable disease outbreaks
    • Changing policy about the infrastructure of school nursing across Oregon
    • Contributing to health transformation in Oregon through care coordination and research

    We have people:

    • Running with Wheatley champions at Special Olympics
    • Building student social and emotional skills so a kid can enjoy the Arata Creek School family fun night
    • Bringing STEM concepts, 3-D printing, CAD, and app design to Helensview School
    • Ensuring that “no child is left inside” at Outdoor School
    • Being the one-stable-thing each summer that children of migrant farmworker families can look forward to
    • Supporting students in acute and subacute mental health wards at Wynne Watts School
    • Helping kids become the first in their family to graduate and attend college through TRIO

    We have people behind the scenes supporting the technology, business, facility, and operation needs of the agency and our districts.

    These are the people around you.  These are the people of MESD. 

    We are MESD.

    MESD Culture

    This year we have an opportunity to build a new culture at MESD.  A culture that is welcoming, transparent, open, prepared, equitable, diverse, and WELL.

    How do we get there? How will we build this Culture?

    We will build the culture of MESD through four primary focuses:

    • Transparency & Communication
    • Equity & Diversity
    • Emergency Operations Planning and Preparedness
    • Wellness

    Which brings me to why we’re here today. Today is an opportunity to come together as an MESD community, to learn, and to get to know each other. Today is an invitation for employees to become more engaged, to affect agency culture, and to help build the culture of MESD.

    The culture WILL NOT change without investment in employees AND employee engagement

    Today is the start of that investment. Today we start building our new MESD Culture.

    Equity & Diversity

    Today includes a session provided by the Equity & Diversity Team where we will have an opportunity to participate in an exercise that helps us understand how those topics connect to our work. Your participation in the session is important.

    The team will ask for your thoughts during and at the conclusion of the session. This is a chance for us to engage and affect agency culture. Your thoughts will inform next steps for this work throughout the agency.

    Emergency Operations Planning & Preparedness

    This year the Emergency Operations Planning committee conducted an all-staff survey to determine areas where training is needed and to identify staff members who are able and willing to support emergency planning, preparedness, and response activities.

    Thank you to everyone that responded to the survey. We Heard You.

    Today includes a session provided by the Emergency Operations Planning committee. We will learn about the Standard Response Protocol, the process the committee is following to create a working emergency operations and preparedness plan. We will learn about the opportunities employees have to engage in the development of the plan through public comment.


    Very importantly, today is the Kick-Off Event for the Journey to the Well employee wellness program. The agency began to look at Wellness last Fall when an employee wellness survey was conducted.  I want to thank each of you that took the time to respond to the survey.

    74% of you said that you would like to have an employee wellness program.

    We heard you, and we have responded.

    The survey results were used to develop a Journey to the Well employee wellness program proposal.  The proposal and grant application were submitted to the OEA Choice Trust for funding to support this program.


    I’d like to thank Margo Lalich, our Director of School Health Services for her leadership in bringing a formal employee wellness program to MESD and the founding members of the Wellness Committee; Steffannie Roache’, Scott Ryan, Susan Briggs, Susan Miller, Elana Emlen, and Teresa Lay.


    The OEA Choice Trust awarded a grant for the program and I’d like to recognize and thank OEA Choice Trust and their Board for supporting the Journey to the Well program.

    Through the survey employees also requested information and resources about four areas of focus: Exercise, Stress, Nutrition and Culture Change

    We heard you.  Today at this kick-off event, with the support of OEA Choice Trust, we are providing you with the information and resources that you requested.

    We are delivering on promises that were made to you. Promises like:

    • Making Wellness a benefit available to all employees,
    • Encouraging and involving employees to inform, own, and lead components of the program;
    • Increasing the knowledge employees have resources available to support their well-being;
    • Giving employees the information they need to become involved in Wellness


    Which brings me back to the four primary focuses that we will use to build our culture of MESD:

    • Transparency & Communication
    • Equity & Diversity
    • Emergency Operations Planning & Preparedness
    • Wellness
    • Those are the topics you’ll be hearing about today and throughout the year.  These will be our areas of focus as we build our Culture of MESD together.  

    Welcome, thank you for your service to students, and let’s go enjoy the day.