Fred's 4_March 2021 EditionPosted by Fred Brent on 3/22/2021
I'M PROUD OF...
Officer Hall and the Cornerstones. (Sounds like a band, right?) As you know, in GISD we believe that public education is a foundation of this community. The Chamber of Commerce recognizes this in its celebration of the four cornerstones: Public Education, Public Safety, Healthcare and Economic Development. I am proud that our community is intentional about these cornerstones, and we recently saw a great example in the noble actions of Georgetown Police Officer Shannon Hall. I have had the pleasure of watching Officer Hall work as an SRO in our district for several years. She is an amazing reflection of our partnership with Georgetown PD and she is an incredible protector of our students. Recently, Officer Hall was recognized by the Georgetown Fire Department for her effort to save the life of a 4-month-old baby through CPR. I am so thankful for her and for the work she does. I am proud to know her, and I am proud to serve a community that collaborates by the Cornerstones of this community. I am proud of Officer Hall, the example she sets, and the reflection she is of our partnerships throughout this great community.
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT...Telling Our Learning Story. I recently participated in a Board Workshop that revealed the first version of a data dashboard we've been working on for a long time. What I loved about this work is that it created a true reflection of student learning using multiple measures. I love that teacher assessments are highlighted as one of the measures. While this dashboard was specific to 3rd grade literacy and numeracy, I believe it was a great representation of the intentional efforts that all of our teachers, principals and staff have placed on student growth.My belief is that, as we grow in the PLC process while implementing curriculum and assessmentsystems, this dashboard allows GISD to have an incredible reflection tool that celebrates the work of our teachers. I'm curious to see how the multiple measures approach is able to capture the progress of students who may not score as well on traditional standardized tests. I wonder what other ways we can use this dashboard to tell the whole story of learning and progress in GISD. While I am curious about where this journey leads us, early indicators tell me that this tool has a lot of potential.
I'M WORKING ON...Leadership Goals. Last year our district and campus leaders began formally setting leadership goals and receiving ongoing coaching on those goals. As I was setting my own goals at that time, I participated in a feedback process that helped me identify areas in which I most need to grow. Two specific areas that I chose to focus my goals were: celebrating the success of others and listening to differing opinions. This past year has certainly been a good time to work on those areas! I've definitely been challenged to be more attentive to the needs of others. I know, too, that listening to differing opinions is helping me to grow in empathy. As we look ahead to the future, I will keep working on listening - with an empathetic ear - to better understand where others are and how I can best walk beside them. I know that I have much to learn and I want to keep growing. Each day, I want to be better than I was the day before. Thank you for your patience with me in that pursuit.
I'M INSPIRED BY...Team GISD, and especially the empathy and grit I saw from Team GISD during the Winter Storm last month. I was inspired by the selfless work I saw by so many. Members of our team, from both campuses and district departments, were checking on others, working incredibly hard to solve problems, and finding ways to serve GISD kids and families. There were many times during those 12 days that I witnessed people putting the comfort and well being of others ahead of their own. These people aren't the kind of people seeking recognition, but I'm glad that many across the district were able see their service and commitment. We often hear "team" and there are many cliches around "team"... I've got to say that the men and women of GISD displayed a depth of teamwork in a really challenging time that I've never observed before as a district leader. I am truly inspired.
Fred's 4_October 2020 EditionPosted by Fred Brent on 10/28/2020
I'M PROUD OF...
Georgetown IS for hosting its own UIL Marching Band Competition! It is obvious that public schools have faced obstacles in their efforts to create "normal" student experiences, and marching band has been a difficult one for many districts to figure out. As a result of the pandemic, our UIL region has canceled marching band competitions. However, the GISD Fine Arts team has created a way and managed protocols to the degree that both of our marching bands are competing... and the UIL committee has elected to allow our district to host our very own regional competition. Once again, our team has adapted and found a way to create great learning experiences for kids. I'm proud of the team for their determination in finding a way for our students to have this experience, and I'm especially excited that our seniors will be able to participate.
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT...
The best way to collect student, teacher and parent voice on their experiences so far this school year. We, as a district, want to be able to celebrate what's working and create solutions for the things in our system that are barriers... and always in a way that is supportive and values the hard work we have all done so far. We want to be agile enough to address concerns and offer good solutions. On October 19, we welcomed 1,200 students back to campus. In many ways, it felt like a 3rd first day of school. With each new step, we want to stay in tune to the needs of our students, staff and families. Basically, I'm curious about what's going well and what are some things we can try to adjust so we can best meet the needs of those we serve.
I'M WORKING ON...
My learning. One thing we know about the past 8 months is that things have changed at a more rapid pace than normal. With that thought, I know that our student experience is becoming more personalized in the delivery and consumption of instruction and learning. While I do not know exactly where all of this leads, I do know that these recent experiences and disruptions have revealed the need to continue evolving toward a more personalized and competency based system. I enjoyed my time learning more with others around the district this week at Aurora's virtual symposium. I know I have a lot more to learn about competency based and personalized learning, and I'm looking forward to that journey.
I'M INSPIRED BY...
The commitment of our people to lead our work. A random set of circumstances led me to a recent spontaneous visit to Wagner Middle School, and I left there inspired. I entered the design lab where an academic team and the campus principal were having a PLC meeting. They were doing incredible work! I saw a teacher whom I've know for several years leading a discussion. I took a moment to pause and think as I watched her present. With all of the challenges in front of our campuses, this teacher was determined to not let COVID deter her commitment to creating great experiences for her students and the collaboration it takes to make this work special.
Fred's 4_September 2020 EditionPosted by Fred Brent on 9/25/2020
I'M PROUD OF...
Teacher flexibility! While I often try to make this more specific to one person or one specific event, I feel compelled to share the pride I have in our teachers and principals for their commitment to creating teaching scenarios that are kid driven. We have so many teachers balancing in person and remote learning. While there is no way I can assume I know how difficult this must be, I do know this... teachers have made tough decisions, and those decisions landed on the learning needs of kids. I’m proud of this commitment. I’m proud of the flexibility they’ve shown, and I’m thankful that they are doing this for kids. Hearing stories about the demands of teaching in person and remote causes me to reflect on this journey, the tough decisions and the new work that had to be created... and I am flooded with pride because I know that on the other side of their struggles and commitment, there are students being loved and served in selfless ways. And to me, that is the true heart of a teacher.
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT...
Finding “balance between the work COVID brings and the work we began before we were in a pandemic. I keep asking how we navigate our current situation with COVID without losing sight of all the great things we had started prior to COVID. I can only imagine that you, like me, keep wondering when things will be back to “normal.” Perhaps some things never will be like they were, and maybe it’s my desire to see us in buildings focusing on the great work you are doing without being worried about our basic well being. I’m curious about finding the balance of dealing with today while focusing on the future, maintaining direction and acting strategically. I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but this is a strong, basic wondering that I wrestle with each day... navigating the present and securing your safety while securing our future as a learning organization.
I'M WORKING ON...
Navigating state and local bureaucracies... legislative mandates from last year are still in effect. We have had to re-create school and we have spent a lot of money with the promise of “reimbursement.” Well, securing reimbursements and navigating legislative mandates during this time has been interesting, to say the least. Getting this year started has been the most critical work and I know we still have a lot of work to do to improve how we support you. I’m currently focused on seeking financial reimbursements for money spent on COVID and meeting legislative mandates that include student performance goals and policy compliance, and doing that in a way that aligns with the Vision, Mission and Beliefs of our district.
I'M INSPIRED BY...
I should explain the picture at the top of this page... This sunset is the day after Hurricane Laura passed through Louisiana and East Texas. I was able to get to my parents home in East Texas the evening of the storm. After securing the house and riding it out with my parents, the cleanup of debris began. That evening, we took this picture... It inspires me. After every storm, there will be a sunset, and it’s up to us to slow down and absorb that moment. That inspiration reminds me of the storm we are in with COVID and the personal storms many of you may be experiencing.
I am also inspired by the storm faced by two specific individuals in GISD. They have been dealing with the loss of a loved one during this pandemic. Both of them were, and still are, overwhelmingly loved and supported by their campus and district family. To be aware of their storm and to see them persevering and doing incredible work for kids is inspiring. We cannot assume to know the difficulties faced by individuals in our GISD family, and we may not ever know the extent of the challenges faced by our colleagues. But I am inspired by the love, teamwork and support for one another that you, GISD, has given and shown to one another. It inspires me and humbles me. I will keep looking for the sunset after this storm, and I pray that each of you will find it as well.
Fred's 4_June 2020 EditionPosted by Fred Brent on 6/11/2020 5:00:00 PM
I'M PROUD OF...
..the way that men and women in GISD have navigated the challenges presented to us this spring: by being adaptable, flexible, and agile. Those three words mean a lot to me, as I’ve always believed that they represent qualities that any public education system has to embrace if it’s going to remain the foundation of its community. For a school district to be what a community needs them to be, they need to evolve into learning organizations that are able to adapt to the challenges facing them, flexible enough to adjust the services provided and how they are delivered, and agile enough to do all of this quickly and effectively. I am so proud of the way you have embraced and modeled adaptability, flexibility, and agility over and over again during the last few months!
I'M CURIOUS ABOUT...
...the impact of COVID-19 on our students and the best way to go about determining that impact. I know we’ll have a lot to learn about their needs. What’s the best way to assess what learning progress was made or lost? How will we assess the social emotional needs of our students? How can we give each student a customized experience that reflects their unique needs? How can we assess and customize in a way that reflects the beliefs of our district?
I'M WORKING ON...
...the New Big 3: Calendar, School Day and Safety Precautions. You’ve probably got questions about what those look like for 2020-2021. I do, too! We are launching teams to research and collaborate about these three big ideas and work to make plans to implement what’s best for Georgetown ISD. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re working on it, and we’re committed to keeping you informed.
I'M INSPIRED BY...
...one of our seniors who wanted to visit with me about the field of education. She invited me to a Google Hangout where, among other things, she shared her aspirations to serve in public education and advocate for schools’ evolution to what they can and should be. She was clear about how much she has loved her teachers and school, and she values the role they’ve played in forming her passions and goals. It’s people like you, Team GISD, who inspired this young lady! Since that visit, I continue to think about the legacy educators leave. So many of us were inspired by an educator ourselves, and to hear of a GISD student that is committed to impacting public schools and the education system as a whole on behalf of future generations left me inspired.
Fred's 4_February 2020 EditionPosted by Fred Brent on 2/27/2020 5:00:00 PMSOMETHING I'M PROUD OF
Last week I was invited to be a guest on the Puma News Network (PNN) at Purl Elementary School. I had no idea what that would entail, but I was excited to participate and here’s what I experienced... Students from diverse backgrounds and skillsets worked with Mrs. Cooper on their section of Puma News. Each student was excited about their role and entered the process with confidence. In one segment I was “bamboozled” into eating a “dead-fish” jelly bean. It tasted awful, and I’m thankful that the student beside me did not complain when I nearly knocked him over getting to the trash can to dispose of that dreadful thing! I also had the chance to wear a hairnet, talk about the lunch menu and discuss a few things about me in the process. It was fun, and also confirmed the great things happening in GISD classrooms every day!
That experience at Purl was a moment of pride for me. I’m proud of our district and teachers for securing the resources to make programs like Puma News happen. I’m proud of our students for learning new skills and finding their way through the Learner Profile. I’m proud of the fact that our campuses have taken something like this and quickly made it their own. I’m proud of the relationships I witnessed between our teachers and students. I’m proud to be in Georgetown where every campus, every day, is making a difference through diverse experiences.
SOMETHING I’M CURIOUS ABOUT
I’m curious about the growth of our district and how we can act strategically to embrace this growth while honoring the things of our past that make this district and community a place we love to call home. How do we keep honoring our history and the values that built Georgetown? How do we evolve with an ever-changing population with ever-changing needs? I’m curious how we can do all of this while honoring our Vision, Mission and Beliefs as we pursue academic success and learner profile development.
SOMETHING I’M WORKING ON
True Accountability. While we must address the expectations of our State accountability system, we in GISD believe there is so much more to our students and staff than that system can capture. Since 2017, GISD has been participating in the Texas Public Accountability Consortium (TPAC). We are finally at a place to start building out the first aspects of Community Based Accountability, or what has become known as True Accountability. True Accountability supports a deeper dive into the work being done in our schools and allows greater insight into the things we know matter... things beyond one test. For example: social-emotional learning, learner profile attributes and other attributes our community cares about. We want to allow for community voice in the things we are accountable for. Yes, State Accountability has a place in all of this. However, I hope you will see that our district is so much more. That story deserves to be told through deeper accountability. I hope you will help us navigate the future of this work. You will be hearing more in the future.
SOMETHING THAT INSPIRED MEIn January, I walked into the end of a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) introduction that was taking place in the Boardroom at Hammerlun. As teachers were leaving, I started talking to three elementary teachers about TBRI and other general things. As the conversation progressed, one of the teachers, Amber Arnold, shared her good news: She was in the process of adopting two amazing little girls and could not be more excited. The next day she shared a picture of her and the girls. The joy on their faces was priceless. I left that conversation feeling inspired by her, her commitment to kids in the classroom and kids outside of the classroom, so much that she has provided a loving home for two little girls that I hope someday will realize how fortunate they are. We have amazing people in GISD — men and women who care about kids and extend themselves, selflessly, to share love and goodwill. In a follow-up with Amber, I learned that a significant next step has been moved up to March 1 for this adoption. So... Congratulations to Amber and her expanded family!