Address given by Superintendent Felix to all CUSD Faculty & Staff

Posted by: Jennifer Landry 3 years, 5 months ago

Address given by Superintendent Felix to all CUSD Faculty & Staff

Following is the August 18, 2014 Address given by Superintendent Felix to all faculty & staff on the first day back for employees from summer break:

When I was asked what I would say to the employees of our district on their first day back from summer, all I could think about was a giant picture of an elephant in a room.  That elephant would be turquoise and have a great big letter "E" on each side.  All I could think about was what do I say about our huge loss on the Proposition E campaign?

The proposition that we valiantly asked the community to accept failed two days before school ended and we never really had the chance to talk about it.  But all of us have felt the effects of it.  Many of our colleagues are not here today either because they never returned from the layoffs in March, or they saw the handwriting on the wall and left for greener pastures.  There have been lots of changes over the summer; most of them involve diminishing services to students and parents.  These changes can be seen in quality teachers being moved to other sites or even other positions in order to maintain their employment. It can be seen in the large number of students in classrooms, classrooms that are offering core curriculum rather than engaging electives.

However, we will always stay true to our nature and do all we can to keep harm from the children.  These changes won't happen overnight; they will be slow and mostly unnoticed.  But over time our district will lose its ability to be competitive and employees and students will choose to go elsewhere.  It's just a matter of time.

But I choose not to dwell on this.  I choose to not allow these sobering truths the opportunity to consume me and my time serving Coronado.  My father taught me that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% what you do about it.  I hope you will join me in choosing to be the best that you can be with the resources you have been given.  Choose to keep learning as the foremost goal for our students.  Choose to remain a servant of our community even though it appears we have been forgotten and cast aside by that same community.

Despite the failure of Proposition E, we have a lot to celebrate and to be grateful for.  Together we have accomplished a great deal. Teachers have grown stronger in their ability to deliver instruction effectively because of the extra days we spent last year on professional development. The instructional support from our classified staff significantly improved student learning through the various services provided.  These collaborative efforts crossed departmental, grade level, school, and even district boundaries; you should be proud of the incredibly positive impact you have had on student learning.  This year we took the lemons of not being able to have additional professional development days and made lemonade out of it, calling it "Late Start Thursdays" thus giving us collaborative training days without it costing us a dime.  We can do this- it will just mean that we will need to work smarter and harder to do the job.

Allow me to speak personally with you for a moment.  There are those of you who feel that you are already working as hard as you can, that you put in way too many hours for too little money and not enough thanks.  Well frankly, I hear you and I believe you.  I would estimate over 80% of us work way more hours than we are paid and for the most part, all we seem to receive for that hard work is more work.  Every time another colleague is laid off or retires without being replaced is just another load of work heaped on those who remain.  I know that many of you feel overwhelmed.  I know that I do. 

I am asking all of our employees to take a moment and think about how you can simplify your professional life, and perhaps even your personal life.  We are met with so many choices today: so many methods of communication, so many things in the grocery or department store to buy, and so many ways to instruct or raise a family.  Our lives are filled with worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we never have enough time to do it all, or do it well.  These feelings are "contaminating" our experience of time; time pressure and stress is re-sculpting our brains and re-shaping our workplaces.  Our relationships with colleagues and with family members are squeezing the space in our lives that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure.

My suggestion to all of you is to think about how to narrow these choices that we all face on a daily basis.  Decide on one or two things that seem to be important or intriguing to you and go deeper in your thought or application of those choices.  By narrowing choices and simplifying what we have or what we do, we become less troubled by these choices and more ready to accept a higher quality of life based upon our ability to manage fewer things.

As I look out into the audience today, I see several of you checking your phones or actually working on a computer while I speak.  Oddly, even though many of us do this constantly, there is no research that supports the idea that multitasking is an effective delivery method for quality production.  You may appear as if you are successful in doing many things at one time, but the quantity of work you produce has nothing to do with the quality of work you deliver.  I urge you to make the choice to have less in your life, to choose to be present with other people instead of partly on your phone and partly in your conversation.  People expect and appreciate your time and your presence in all matters, especially if that person is your student, your spouse, your son or daughter, or your grandchild. 

To back up my statements, I have asked your principals and district office leaders to do the same not only in their personal and professional life, but also with you and the relationship they have with you.  As much as we think we need the all of the common core training shoved on our plate at one time, we simply cannot take it all at once.  Our job, our mission, is to ensure student learning.  Sure, we have other work to do, such as common core training, and we will do it, but we will do it after we take care of our first mission, what we know to be job one.  Job one is taking care of your mental and physical health and then making sure the students under your charge are learning.  HOW you provide that instruction and WHAT you provide in the classroom are secondary to making sure you are healthy and ever-present in all your dealings with those you serve.  Common core training can wait; being present with those we love or those we serve cannot.