Superintendent’s Weekly Check-in, October 12

Superintendent Matthew HaasDear Colleagues:

A thought for next week: “Being a good teacher means helping students to be who they need to be.” — Kwame Alexander

Good Morning, everyone, and happy Friday!

On September 6, Virginia Slechta, a first-grade teacher at Crozet Elementary School, emailed Jamie Foreman and me to ask about expanding IP phone services in classrooms so that teachers can call parents who have held onto phone numbers from other area codes. I really appreciate Ginny emailing us because it started a larger conversation about connecting effectively with families, especially those that are transient. To make a long story short, we are now doing a three-month trial of opening up the IP phones to make long-distance calls so we can see what the fiscal impact will be. I hope this helps and that it works out.

I bring this up because you have received an email and Compass post from me asking for ideas for the budget cycle as aligned with our strategic work and Board priorities going forward into 2019-20. Please share your ideas with your principal and department head so that we can all work together to prioritize ways that we can serve students and staff better. I’m listening … I’m not a perfect listener, but I’m listening because the best ideas come from people engaged day to day in the most important work: teaching and learning and the support of teaching and learning.

Dr. Daphne Keiser and Doug Keaton are providing great leadership at one of our most important resources for students learning work skills on their paths to career and continuing education readiness at CATEC. I toured the facility with them this week, and we visited several classes, including Augustine Arthur in IT; Karen Brown and Jacqueline Waller in Cosmetology; Firefighting with Bobby Elliott; Ronald Moore and Matt Richardson in Auto Body and Technology; Building Trades with Sid Trimmer; and Carol Robbs in Culinary Arts. Everywhere we went, students were engaged in hands-on and technical work, learning from each other and their teachers. CATEC’s enrollment grew this year, and we should be expanding outreach to middle school students so that they may learn more about the school’s excellent opportunities, now including Veterinary Science!

First thing in the morning on Monday, I dropped by Albemarle High School’s annual student leadership retreat, orchestrated by Rich Lindsay. The event is hosted by Camp Holiday Trails and includes students sleeping over at the camp on Sunday night. This diverse group of young leaders was clearly working hard to discover the source of their leadership skills and to think about how they can positively impact others. Their question: “What can you do?” Their answer: “Small, great things!” I’m so proud of all of our student leaders and our employees, including teachers and staff of all kinds, who take time to mentor them. Remember: You are a success, and students want to know how to be successful from you!

One final note: I just finished reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. I’m reflecting on how change really happens in small, positive steps and not through decree. I’m reminded of Buzzy Male, longtime AHS running coach, who I once heard telling a cross country runner, “It takes a long process and a lot of hard work to become an overnight success.”

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.