Superintendent’s Weekly Check-in, September 28

Superintendent Matthew HaasDear Colleagues:

A thought for next week: “Free public schools nourished the concept that what you know matters more than who you know. Common people coupled with an education, talent, and drive could counter social status and elitist contacts based on wealth or position. Only in America is there a Fanfare for the Common Man, instead of fanfares for some inherited royalty or elitist privilege. Public education celebrated the possibilities in the “common” diverse citizenry.” — George A. Goens

Happy Friday!

Yesterday I met with the Transportation Advisory Committee, a group of drivers, managers, and maintenance crew members with whom Jim Foley, Charmane White, and Chuck Leathers meet routinely to hear ideas and concerns for continuous improvement of our transportation services. I really appreciate Brian Meadows, William Shifflett, John Payne, Jeanette Reynolds, Virginia Corbin, Candace Dodson, Amanda Rogers, Tammy Young, Jennifer Green, and Renee DeVall for taking the time to talk with me about their work. I am so impressed with our Transportation Department!

Oh my goodness, Staci England took me on a tour of Scottsville this week, and we started out in the preschool classroom with Briana Carel. I could have spent the rest of the day with them; they are so cute. My children are teenagers now, and sometimes I forget just how curious and eager to engage four-year-olds can be. Ms. Carel was teaching the students about their five senses, and we were all practicing listening when it’s quiet. Don’t ask me how Brie was able to get all of these preschoolers quiet for a few minutes while we heard birds chirping and water dripping from the rain, but she amazingly did it! They were about to start making their own listening devices (toilet paper tubes), and we practiced listening through one … so much fun!

When I was at Red Hill on Monday, Albemarle County Police Officer Laura Proffitt came by to help Nancy McCullen conduct a lockdown drill. I also had a chance to chat with Michelle Creasy and visit several classes, including Tina Bolen’s 1st and 2nd grade class in one of the larger, shared learning spaces. Tina is working with Brittany Kaufman, a student teacher, and I was very impressed with how Ms. Bolen had the whole class orchestrated and shows an uncanny ability to empower individual students. Before I left, Nancy and I were talking in the hallway, and a student who was on his way to lunch asked Nancy to join him. I love that.

Nancy and I started talking about how teachers translate high expectations into a student’s learning through productive struggle. She shared with me that having high expectations for a student means that when the student thinks she needs help, the teacher does not automatically provide the answer to the question at hand. Instead, the teacher begins with questions for the student. For example, “What have you tried so far?” and “What do you think you could try next?” I learned a lot from that conversation. Thanks, Nancy!

One final note: I just read—at Sandra McLaughlin’s urging—The Other Wes Moore, a narrative non-fiction story that chronicles the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name: Wes Moore. The author was inspired to write this story because of this fact and their similar start in Baltimore, Maryland. While one Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison, the author Wes Moore became a Rhodes Scholar and a best-selling author. Moore’s purpose in writing the story is to examine how two people with such similar backgrounds can end up with completely different lives.

If you are interested in reading this book, be one of the first 10 people to email Christine Thompson about it, and I will get a copy delivered to you at school!

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.