There are a great many thoughts that come to mind as you prepare to succeed someone with the stature and impact of Pam Moran. As Superintendent for 13 years, she was much more than the leader of a school division. She was a role model for all organizations in the way in which energy, vision and purpose are used to change conventional thinking and pave the way for higher achievement.
I think the word that best describes how I feel right now is humility. It is an incredible honor to be leading an organization filled with such talented and dedicated professionals across all schools, departments and offices. Our entire team takes a great deal of pride in their public service. You work hard and creatively to improve the quality of our programming and instruction, the safety and health of students and staff, and the enthusiasm and confidence around collaboration and risk-taking.
We are accomplishing objectives that few other school divisions in Virginia, or even around the nation, can claim as their own. From project-based learning to culturally responsive teaching, from CoderDojos and Fine Arts Academies to more meaningful homework policies, from the design of our contemporary learning environments to school bus safety, from child nutrition programs that promote the health of all students to students who change state health curriculums, from changes in Advanced Placement courses that broaden student choice to freshmen seminars and student centers that extend student choice even further, things are happening in Albemarle that are not happening anywhere else.
This is not just my view; I hear it from state officials, from university and K-12 visitors to our school division, from local business and community leaders, and at education conferences across the county.
My first order of business as your new Superintendent will be to devote a good portion of my time to our extraordinary team. I am looking forward to several meetings this summer with teachers, staff, students, and community members. I want you to do most of the talking, and I’ll take notes. I want to hear from you about what our school division is doing really well, where some of the opportunities are for significant improvement, what support from the central office would make you even more effective in your job, and your suggestions for what should be on the most ambitious of our to-do lists.
I will be using this counsel to help develop a strategic and operational action plan that will guide my priorities in alignment with the ACPS strategic plan.
At our School Board’s recent retreat, we heard from a futurist that the continuing automation of American businesses will impact millions of jobs over the next generation as we move into the smart machine age. We have, I think, a bit of a head start in thinking through the implications of this shift, because more of the jobs in the future will be those not easily done by a computer. Thus, the importance of social and emotional learning and an emphasis on soft skills, already priorities for our team, will become even more important.
Our school division yet again has the chance to model the way forward for our profession. I feel very good about our chances to do that, and I look forward with much anticipation and excitement to working with every one of you as the 20th Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools.
Have a safe and pleasant summer.
Matthew S. Haas, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools