Guest Column: Charting the Course to Excellence – With Gratitude

By Mark T. Porter, Superintendent

As we approach the heart of the Holiday Season there is a great deal to be thankful and grateful for in our communities and in our schools.

Let me begin with a somewhat overdue “thank you” to the voters of Monroe County who overwhelmingly approved an extension of the ½ cent sales tax for capital improvements. Your support is greatly appreciated by our students and by our staff. I can assure you that your trust in our ability to properly invest these resources as promised; to enhance and improve our buildings, to assure safety and security for students and staff, and to deploy student technology in a way that improves student learning, will be kept, measured and well communicated. Again, thank you on behalf of our students and our staff.

I also want to express my personal appreciation for the time and effort put forth by many in our communities who volunteered to participate in an annual review of our Strategic Plan – Charting the Course to Excellence in the Monroe County Schools. Gathering over fifty people together, including staff and community members, to review accomplishments in year 1 and set forth targets for continued progress and improvement in year 2 was a valuable and informative experience. Time was taken to celebrate successes of the past year, but a greater focus was placed on planning for future next steps toward our ultimate goals and strategic objectives. I am grateful that we have such an engaged and generous community when it comes to important efforts such as this. I also know this is just one example of the kind of community involvement and support that takes place each and every day in our schools. Thank you for your support of time and effort.

Finally, I want to give a big “shout out” to the dedicated staff of the Monroe County Schools. No organization is more dependent on their human capital than a school system. It will always be true that we will only be as good as the people who work here. Many of our staff have persevered and endured through difficult times, yet have remained focused and dedicated to their students and families. We have been fortunate this past year to be able to provide a modest increase in compensation for all of our employees and in addition have provided a “premium holiday” from their health insurance contributions for one pay period this month due to the improved financial health of our self-insured fund. Our employees truly deserve all we can do to recognize and support them. On behalf of the School Board and myself I want to say thank you for making the first half of the 2014-15 school year such a positive step forward for everyone.

Community engagement is a critical part of our Strategic Plan and saying thank you is simply not enough. Truly effective engagement with our community means that both sides are contributing to the benefit of the other. We are grateful for what our communities do for us, but also want to continue to expand upon what we can do for our communities. In 2015 I will be announcing details of the “Superintendent’s Community Service Challenge”, an organized opportunity for all Monroe County School employees to give back to their respective communities while at the same time building camaraderie and rapport within our organization. Details will be announced shortly after the first of the year.

I know we all have a great deal to be grateful for at this time of year. I just wanted you to know how grateful we are in the Monroe County Schools for your continued support that is demonstrated in so many different ways. We are indeed Charting the Course to Excellence – with gratitude for all you do. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

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