Dear Team PUSD,
I am still reveling in the energy and excitement from Friday’s welcome back kick-off! Thank you to all who attended our opening with George Couros. I hope you laughed a lot, learned a lot, and cried a little. I also hope you were inspired, like I was, to impact our students in positive, personal, and innovative ways. Thank you so much for all of your kind emails and feedback. It made the “positives so loud that the negatives were almost impossible to hear!” Some of the comments you shared included: “this was the most inspirational day in my educational career,” “I’ve never had so much hope and I haven’t felt this proud of PUSD in a very long time,” and “I’m now excited and ready for this school year to begin!” You can enjoy some fun photos from the event by clicking here
Many parts of Mr. Couros’ speech stood out to me, but one quote in particular: “"If you want to inspire meaningful change, you have to make a connection to the heart before you make a connection to the mind."
In other words, relationships matter. Saying hello while passing a student in the hallway is an opportunity to let them know that someone cares about them. Making the effort to learn students’ names as they board the bus every morning lets them know someone notices them. Taking the time to find out why a student is having an “off” day lets them know someone is listening. As our speaker reminded us: School should be a joyous place, but for some students, school is their MOST joyous place!
No one in Poway Unified does this work in isolation. Administrators, teachers, counselors, and classified staff can all help promote changes that benefit all of our students. The question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What responsibility do I have in creating culture and conditions to support our world class learners?” Recently, PUSD received the honor of being selected to be part of the League of Innovative Schools, a national network of forward-thinking K-12 school districts. Beyond the use of technology, innovation is a mindset. We can all play a role in bringing new ideas to our work. How do we innovate within the box? Together, we can move our District towards maximizing each student’s potential for greatness.
I appreciate how hard so many of you have worked to prepare our schools and our classrooms for the arrival of our students. In the excitement of the first day of school, I hope that you don’t forget that We’re Better When We’re Dancing
I hope you feel inspired, I hope you feel supported, I hope you know we care.
Wishing you a wonderful new school year!
Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.
Poway Unified School District