Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Failure is not an option." - Gene Granz

My planner has daily quotes about leadership and one this past week really hit me as we are working hard at meeting the current and future needs of our students in the S-O Schools...

Gene Kranz said "These three astronauts [on Apollo 13] were beyond our physical reach. But not beyond the reach of human imagination, inventiveness, and a creed we all lived by: 'Failure is not an option.'

I think about this quote a lot in my work as the superintendent of our school system...failure is not an option for any students (and I don't mean the occasional paper, project or test...I'm thinking larger scale failure as we all need to learn to deal with smaller things as well as life is full of setbacks) as there is no future with failure. Failure of the school system to successfully prepare our students for the future is not an option either. We must make some changes in the way we engage students in thoughtful, critical thinking ways if they are going to have any chance to succeed in their lives after high school. The world has changed exponentially and we must do what we can in our schools to meet the changes head on. Your children are worth it!

If you have a comment about Gene's quote or my comments about failure not being an option for our students or our school system, please hit the comments button below and join in this on-line conversation.

Have a great week,

Supt Herzberg

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Positive News!

It seems like we have heard a number of good things about our schools recently but from a whispering perspective instead of a shouting one...seems like negative stuff is easier for us all to talk to others about.

My idea for today's blog is to see if you want to share any comments about something positive going on in our schools. You don't have to mention any names specifically but if you feel like something has been positive lately, hit the comments button below and share it with all of us.

The most recent example I can use is the state speech festival that was hosted here by our school district on Saturday, March 13. Mr. and Mrs. Schuller did a fantastic job of getting that event ready and pulling it off that day...literally thousands of people were in our school and everything went very well. Thank you to the Schullers, all the volunteers and our building custodians who, as usual, had things ready to go and had the building looking good!

Thanks for sharing,

Supt Herzberg

Saturday, March 13, 2010

US Competitiveness...

...was the subject of an article I read recently in the Denver Post. The op ed piece entitled "The Jetsons vs. the Flintstones", written by Thomas Friedman from the New York Times, continued to make the case of the need for a higher sense of urgency by educators everywhere (as well as the rest of society).

Friedman interviewed Paul Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, the microchip maker, as he was discussing American competitiveness. Intel is just completing their newest semiconductor factory in China and they were discussing why in China...

Friedman says; "These local incentives matter (tax breaks in other countries that make expansion there and not in the US inevitable), because smart, skilled labor is everywhere now. Intel can thrive today - not just survive - and never hire another American. Asked if his company was being held back by weak science and math education in America's K-12 schools, Otellini explained: "As a citizen, I hate it. As a global employer, I have the luxury of hiring the best engineers anywhere on earth. If I can't get them out of MIT, I'll get them out of Tsing Hua," Beijing's MIT."

Friedman continues; "It gets worse...study also measured what they call 'the rate of change in innovation capacity' over the last decade - in effect, how much countries were doing to make themselves more innovative for the future. The study relied on 16 different metrics of human capital - IT infrastructure, economic performance and so on. On this scale, the U.S. ranked dead last out of the same 40 nations...When you take a hard look at the things that make any country competitive...we are slipping."

You are probably asking yourself why does this matter to the students and staff of the Sibley-Ocheyedan CSD? You might even be saying; Supt Herzberg sounds like Chicken Little and needs to understand that the sky really isn't falling... Well, I believe that this does impact the work that we do with your children...as educators we must continue to look toward the horizon to see if what we are doing is enough to prepare our future leaders for their future, not our past. I know this is uncomfortable for many people as school is different than when you were a child...but what place in society isn't? Hasn't technology and innovation disrupted every other occupation or walk of life in our society?

We must move forward to make sure that your children are ready to meet the challenges of the world head on! I want what is best for your children and will do everything in my power to make this happen. Our staff is working hard at making some changes to the instruction that happens in their classrooms and we need your support to meet these new challenges.

Think about the article that I have mentioned above and let me know what you think of our efforts to really make a difference for our students!

Have a great day,

Supt Herzberg