Superintendent’s Weekly Check-in, September 14

Superintendent Matthew HaasDear Colleagues:

A thought for next week: “Sometimes we lack the conviction that our success is needed, when in fact our families and communities need us to be uncommonly successful.”— Princess Fils Aime

Happy Friday!

Something happened earlier in September, and I have decided to tell you about it, hoping you will find it interesting. I figure that, as educators, you will appreciate a quick story like this, and I’ll bet many you have had something similar happen and can identify with how I feel about it.

So, I have a Facebook account, and I sometimes I get contacted by friends I haven’t seen in a while. Well, on September 4, I received the following message from person named Rachel:

Hi Mr. Haas! I am sure you have no idea who I am. You were my English 9 teacher at Kellam HS in Va Beach, back in like 1997/1998! You recommended me for Honors English, and 10th grade English was my first year in Honors!!

I ended up transferring to Kempsville High School, and the year after, you became an assistant principal there! Long story short, I was an English major at William & Mary, and now I am a Virginia Beach City Public Schools High School English Teacher!

My daughter is starting 3rd grade this year and her teacher is Mrs. Haas … made me think of you!

Needless to say, I was touched to be remembered in this way. I responded:

Rachel, yes, of course I remember you! I am so proud of you; you have been so successful.

Thank you for reaching out to me; you made my day!

My wife Sheri asked me if I really remembered Rachel, and I think I do! As a new assistant principal at Kempsville High School, I remember that it was such a relief to meet a student I already knew who could vouch for me. For me, I think the best part of this situation is that Rachel is so proud to be a teacher that she wanted to tell me about it … someone she hasn’t seen in 20 years. She had to know I’d be proud of her.

Coincidentally, I remember nearly 30 years ago writing a letter to my high school English 11 teacher, Larry Pickett, to tell him that I had become an English teacher. He inspired me, and he was the first teacher to recommend me for Honors English. I still remember him boasting to me about how he had helped me improve as a reader, writer, speaker and thinker; and, of course he did!

This is why we treat every student as likeable and smart, and the student will rise to our high expectations for success. Encouraging words and actions toward students have a positive impact, both short- and long-term. Our interactions with students may even impact their career choices!

One final note: October is Virginia School Boards Association Bullying Awareness Month. It is important for educators to respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior in order to send the message that it is unacceptable. Research shows that consistent intervention procedures can stop bullying behavior over time, whereas doing nothing at all will make the bullying infinitely worse.

Just checking in,


Matthew S. Haas, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Your mission and my mission every day is to establish a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time.