Valid email addresses are required to post comments. If your comment is not posted, I will send you an email with an explanation.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Out the Door

Yesterday's blog discussed the transition that 34 seventh graders are making as they move from the elementary school to the secondary school - a trek that symbolically is far greater than the mere number of steps covered in two flights of stairs. Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a mom who just returned from dropping her son off at an out-of-state college for his introduction to higher education as a first year student.

Both of these experiences involve crossing a threshold. They are important to our staff at Heatly because of the vantage points they afford us in terms of assessing our performance. The first marks a midpoint milestone within a thirteen year progression through a curriculum that becomes increasingly more complex in skill and more abstract in concept. The second offers an indication of our ability to prepare learners for college and test our commitment to the district's mission - "Every student will graduate prepared for college, career, and citizenship." I'd like to address the college entry experience in today's blog.

Each time I've had my car serviced at the dealership I receive a call from the service department a few days later asking about my perception of the quality of work and the customer relationship resulting from that visit. That genuine interest in following up on the transaction impresses me and earns loyalty to the dealer and brand for their company's commitment to customer satisfaction. We will also be attempting to solicit feedback on our "products" and "service" by reaching out to recent graduates of Heatly who are currently attending college so we can obtain their reflections on the manner in which Heatly either prepared them for college or left them under-prepared for the challenge. Regularly seeking feedback like this through a survey will allow us to incorporate their responses and suggestions into our efforts to continually improve the educational experience provided in our high school.

It's not enough to watch our seniors walk across the stage and receive their diploma and bid them good-bye. Many groups who purport to measure the effectiveness of schools focus on the percentage of graduates that enroll in college. More important than that statistic is the percentage of graduates who are still in college two years later. While there are many reasons one might withdraw from college, it can reveal some measure of how well they've been prepared to meet with success in college. If many have dropped out due to poor grades then we could draw some conclusions from that and buttress the relevance and rigor of our instructional program if we were able to identify areas in which these college drop-outs were lacking in preparation. Perhaps the examination of feedback shows a need to increase time management practices or organizational skills or study techniques. Maybe we need to exercise more care in shepherding the high school students toward college environments more aligned with their personal interests and strengths through increased interactions with the student and their family or emphasizing the role of social and interpersonal factors in being sufficiently prepared for college.

Who knows? We can't say that we do - until we actively seek out the opinions and reflections of former Heatly students who have recently encountered the challenges of college. In addition, we'll be inviting back these graduates to speak with current high school students to offer them credible insight into the experience. Our pledge to grow learners does not stop at graduation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Climbing Up The Stairs

Seventh grade orientation is scheduled for tomorrow morning. For these boys and girls the transition from elementary school to secondary school will only require a couple of minutes walk up two flights of stairs above their classrooms of the past, yet it will be a significant advance in their climb toward personal goals. It will prove to be as big of a change and challenge as the one they encountered years ago when they entered Kindergarten.

This will eventually become a mere memory, blending in with the many other experiences within their school life, but tomorrow will fill each of them with anxiety and fear, and hope and promise. That is often the push-and-pull life of an adolescent; a roller coaster of emotions, up and down, left and right, going in every direction all at once. How will I get to my classes, and carry all those books? How will I react to having a different teacher for each subject? What if I don't understand what's going on? What will I do if the bigger kids tease me???

They will endure and survive, grow and progress emotionally, socially, and emotionally between tomorrow and graduation day at levels that will benefit them every bit as much as the intellectual gains they make in achievement. The lessons they will learn beyond those in history, math, and science..., will fill a backpack and more. They will see the value in networking and interacting outside of their circle of comforting friends, learning from differences, questioning their own perspectives while reaffirming their values and beliefs, stretching their imaginations, testing their limits, and creating their identities as they lurch toward adulthood.

However, no matter the depth of their relationships with the many "best friends" they will make in school, they will need support from meaningful adults during this adventure. The ability of these teens to connect with an adult role model is vital to their success. They need someone to look up to, someone to listen to them, someone to shepherd them along their journey - someone who cares.

That's why the staff at Heatly has committed to serving as mentors for all of the kids at school, not just these new seventh graders. The District Leadership Team worked together last year to propose and plan a mentoring program for all the boys and girls in the school. This is a bold initiative that reflects the dedication, empathy, and care of the staff members. Each staff member will meet periodically with a handful of kids and offer an accommodating ear, a watchful eye, and a helpful shoulder. It's a work in progress as we find our own footing on this important responsibility.

We'll be providing more details through our district website regarding the mentoring program as it evolves.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Value of Extra-Curricular Activities

Today was a beautiful morning of sunshine and warmth. It was a great opportunity to get out of the confines of the office and go to Paine Park to observe practices of Heatly's two varsity soccer teams. I spoke with the coaches and watched the boys and girls teams go through drills before actually participating a bit myself.

Extra-curricular activities served an important role in my life during high school. I was a three sport athlete at Schalmont High School in Rotterdam, New York. My involvement in soccer, basketball, and baseball offered opportunities to develop skills and gain experiences that would prove beneficial to me as I grew older. The leadership responsibilities I encountered as team captain increased my confidence and self-discipline. I gained an understanding of the need for, and the value of, teamwork, practice, sacrifice, ethical behavior, goal setting, commitment, cooperation and maintaining focus - all characteristics that contribute toward success later in the workplace, no matter what occupation one chooses. I realized the significance of communication, trust and dependability. And, at the end of each contest, you received feedback on your efforts in the form of outcomes measured in scores, points, goals, or runs. One learns to deal with victory and defeat.

Joe Paterno, long time football coach of Penn State University summed these experiences up best when he said, "Sports doesn't build character, it reveals character." I would use the same perspective to describe virtually all extra-curricular activities at Heatly or any high school. These opportunities supply individuals with a chance to discover their capacity, explore their possibilities, and learn about themselves in ways they might not in a classroom. Although our state education department focuses on test scores as the primary factor in determining levels of learning, I believe that the experiences students acquire through extra-curricular activities are as valuable in predicting future success. Nearly every job requires the worker to demonstrate cooperation, dedication, and responsibility - the same skills and attributes that a student can develop through extra-curricular experiences.

In fact, the National Association of High School Principals has conducted annual surveys of high school life for the last few decades and the data collected offers evidence year after year that the grade point averages of high school students who are active in extra-curricular programs is higher than those who do not engage in any extra-curricular activity. Similarly, high school students at Heatly have the chance to grow in many ways as a result of their participation in extra-curricular activities, whether it's student council, class officer, chorus, athletics, drama, or the host of other experiences available to those interested in expanding their horizons.

I encourage our high school students to become active in extra-curricular programs, and I appreciate the support of the Green Island community in providing the resources necessary for our students to experience these valuable learning opportunities.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Advice for the Parents of the Heatly Class of 2023

Among my favorite quotes is this statement from Alan Kay, one of the original creative leaders of Apple Computer.
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

Although I often think of the message within these words, this quote is increasingly relevant as we approach the start of another school year. We expect to welcome the Heatly class of 2023 to school in a couple of weeks. Who knows what awaits these boys and girls in the future, after they cross the stage to receive their diplomas? Who can remember what it was like thirteen years ago, in August of 1997, when the young men and women who just graduated from Heatly last June were preparing to begin Kindergarten?

We can all chuckle at the differences in prices of various household items between then and now, or laugh at the big changes in pop culture. Few of us want to even peek at photographs (remember them before digital cameras?) of ourselves back then for fear of embarrassing hair styles and funny looking clothes. You were real neat when you were rockin' out carrying around your Compact Disc Walkman, but not the cool dude that you are today toting your IPod and earbuds. Many popular brand names have disappeared during that time and replaced by hot upstart products. Forget about flipping through catalogs or waiting in long lines at the store, you can find what you want via Google and buy it with Paypal.

I could go on and on (except it makes me feel older!!) but you get the point. The rate of change has accelerated at unpredictable levels. Who knows what daily life will be in 2023?

That brings me back to those five year old children we will welcome to school on September 8th. We can't predict what the world will be like on their graduation day. The National Department of Labor will explain that one out of every five types of jobs that exist now, did not exist  in 1997. We are preparing children for an uncertain future with unknown challenges. What can we do to ensure their success? We can equip them with effective skills in literacy, numeracy, and interpersonal communication. We can nurture their dreams and sustain their hopes. Most of all, we can prepare the child for the path rather than try to prepare the path for the child. That's my advice for parents of the class of 2023 - as we work together to help invent the future!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Opening Day is Around the Corner

The frequency of Back to School sales advertisements is a reminder of the impending start of yet another school year. That prospect means many different things to many people. I look forward to opening day with a sense of renewal and enthusiasm.

This will be my 36th opening day of school, and my 34th as a school leader - but my 1st as an employee serving Green Island. It never gets old, no matter the number. Every opening day holds promise and offers hope no matter what venue it is, be it the opening of a new store, a fresh baseball season, a Broadway play, or another school year.

Aside from the few year-round schools, there are specific starting and ending points that define parameters for schools. Traditional benchmarks are sprinkled throughout the calendar (the winter holiday season, winter break, spring break and assorted holidays) and offer a sense of pacing and mark the rhythm of our time. It is this annual cycle that begins with a rebirth each September that supplies sustenance to the optimistic among us. I am one such believer.

This 36 year odyssey has included positions in rural, suburban, and urban districts, big and small, affluent and impoverished, scattered across 5 states. I have seen it all and become the better because of it.

There is nothing like watching children approaching the doors of the school, sporting new clothes, bearing backpacks, and boasting smiles, to inspire your efforts and reaffirm your commitment. Our responsibility is a public covenant with the community to nurture the hopes and sustain the dreams of over 330 youngsters as they grow and create their future. Our mission succinctly states our purpose: "Prepare every student for college, career, and citizenship." It's that simple - and that challenging. The words are minimal, but long on meaning. The metric employed to measure our success is not located within a database of numbers or test scores, but rather on the faces of the children eagerly approaching those school doors. Our task, reducing the many different activities of school personnel into one sentence - like the methodical reduction of fractions to their lowest terms, is to make sure that the children enter the school with a smile each morning and leave with a smile each afternoon. It's our responsibility to find out what might have occurred to rob a child of a reason to smile as they begin their day, and endeavor to transform that experience through appropriate interventions designed to resurrect hope and opportunity. Our commitment throughout each and every child's day in school is to generate reasons to maintain the level of hopes and dreams that produce smiles.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spending vs. Investing

My wife and I have raised two kids. In sum, it's not something you do, it's something you experience. It's an ongoing journey with twists and turns both unexpected and extraordinary. Anyone who has raised kids has enough of a reservoir of stories that they can write a book, not an instructional manual, but a book. Among the rituals all parents encounter at one time or another is the money talk. This discussion centers on concepts like worth, value, exchange, benefit and other notions. Parents also speak of patience, fiscal prudence, and the act of conservation of resources. At least that's what we think we express. Actually, it boils down to trying to get the kids to appreciate the value of effort that goes into earning the money and gaining a fair return in exchange for whatever and however you use the money. It's really about the difference between spending and investing.

I looked up the word spend in a thesaurus and found the following associated words: fritter, squander, consume, exhaust and splurge. In contrast, when I searched the same reference for the word invest, I discovered these related words: endow, provide, supply, devote, advance, and empower. There's a marked difference in the meanings of those two words. Although many people rarely pause to examine how far apart they typically are in action.

Recent headlines and newscasts have touted the flow of money from two separate streams of funding from Washington D.C. First, the ten billion dollar economic stimulus plan referred to as the Education Jobs Fund. The intent of this act is to allow school systems throughout the country to rehire staff members released last spring as a result of budget cuts. New York State will reportedly receive over 600 million dollars to be distributed to the state's 720 school districts. There are two goals embedded within the stimulus: boost employment figures, and, meet the needs of learners. The use of the money is qualified by the following parameters as reported by the executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

"Reportedly the guidance will also give examples of allowable uses of funds and these will include compensation and benefits for restored or new positions for teachers and other school-level staff, as well as restoration of furlough and professional development days, extended school days and summer school, and salary increases."

Second, the Federal Department of Education announced today that New York State is one of the winners of round two of the much touted, Race To The Top program. The RTTT, as it's referred to, is a series of competitive grants awarded to states as an incentive to simulate educational reform and improvement in achievement. New York is scheduled to be the beneficiary of nearly 700 million dollars through this program to be dispersed to schools statewide with the expressed purpose of carrying out "bold reforms" in education. It's important to note the following guidelines as reported by the executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents:

"Some reporters remain misinformed about the possible uses of the money, believing that states may use it to help districts avert the need for layoffs or property tax increases. WRONG. It can only be used to support systemic reform initiatives. Federal law and regulation require winning states to allocate at least half the grant to local education agencies (LEAS -- school districts and charter schools); our application would also make a significant part of the state’s share available to LEAs as grants for activities such as professional development and innovations in teacher compensation, but again, the money cannot be used for basic, ongoing operating expenses."

At this point there's a lot of publicity but little details regarding how much each school district will receive and when they can expect the delivery of money. In short, there's a great deal of hype, but not so much type. Heatly awaits information on both fronts, amount of money and time of distribution.

Now, back to spending vs. investing. Spending is easy. There are an incredible number of companies advertising a multitude of programs, software, hardware, books, and supplies with promises designed to boost performance levels. There's no shortage of opportunities to buy things. In some cases, it can be like a kid in the candy store when studying all of the choices. No matter how much money we receive it could conceivably be consumed in quick order, all with the worthwhile goal of promoting success for our learners. These funds will not be expected as inexhaustible annual grants. We should never be dependent on the federal money. And we should not ignore our orientation and accountability to the Green Island community. We must therefore use the money wisely and invest it in critical areas to leverage success for long term benefits rather than spend it just because we have it. In fact, school districts will be able to carry over some of the Education Jobs money to the 2011/12 school year to ward against further staff cuts. You can be assured that your community representatives, your elected school board members, and I, will exercise responsibility and caution in determining how these funds can be become stimulants of constructive change and productive enterprise.

We will share details and decisions regarding these funds and their intended use through the district's website as soon as the information becomes available.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How's Your Summer?

Every once in a while over the course of the summer, during a casual discussion with someone on the subject of vacations, I'll be asked what it's like having the summer off. I wouldn't know what it's like having the summer off. I've been a school leader for thirty four years and have never had a summer off. The person usually seems surprised to find out that the office staff at school works throughout the summer. Their shock generally leads to a follow-up question - "What does everybody do, since there's no kids in school in the summer?" Well, there's a lot to do - even without kids in the school.

1. Soon after the last child leaves the school in late June, instructional supplies and materials must be ordered, processed, inventoried, and distributed to classrooms in preparation for that first day of school.
2. Families that relocate often do so during the summer, which means that children are enrolled in their new school and discharged from their former school, academic records are transferred or requested, data is imported into decisions on the placement of children in programs and classes.
3. Class schedules are developed for kids,
4. The Master Schedule for the school is constructed with decisions on what classes are offered, what time of day they are provided, who teaches the classes, when the lunch periods are assigned, etc.
5. Most personnel decisions are made during the summer, since retirements often begin at the conclusion of the school year, and enrollments that impact staffing patterns also take shape over the summer - which means the search and selection process leading to interviewing and hiring new staff members occurs in July and August.
6. Staff development activities designed to promote learning opportunities for staff members involving new skills and experiences are easier to schedule during the summer months (which also debunks the myth that teachers have the summer off - hardly a day has gone by since my arrival on July 1st without meeting with a teacher or teachers who have come by the school to work on curriculum development, participate in committee work like reviewing the Student Code of Conduct, prepare their classrooms for the upcoming year, or collaborate with colleagues on improvement efforts).
7. Test score data from recently administered state mandated assessments are examined in an effort to craft our instructional goals for the upcoming school year - on an individual, class, grade, and school-wide level.
8. Policies are reviewed, regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings are convened, the budget is monitored, the physical plant is evaluated for possible repairs, strategies are devised to increase performance levels,... and so much more goes on within the school building despite the absence of children.

In fact, as the new superintendent of Green Island, I've been so busy getting my feet on the ground - meeting with people, learning about the school and community, assessing needs, and preparing a plan to leverage increased levels of success - I haven't had the time to take a single vacation day this summer!

Dr. Michael Mugits

Friday, August 20, 2010

What Counts?

Albert Einstein once stated that, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

That quote must be kept in mind when evaluating the purpose and promise of schools in this day and age where newspaper headlines broadcast the latest test scores on state mandated tests as the lone measure of the value of schools. The test results can certainly be counted - but are they the only statistics that count? What about the attitude or feelings of a child at the end of the school day? That counts, but can it be counted?

I thought about this perplexing dilemma, the idealistic mission of public schools versus the realistic expectations of schools, while I attended an educational conference today on two important topics, bullying, and suicide among youth, two subjects that also receive a great amount of space in newspapers. Recent data indicates that almost 1,400 students commit suicide in New York State each year. This figure warrants sincere attention and comprehensive response. Bullying has increased and expanded to, and through, the Internet in the form of vicious and hateful comments exchanged in social network sites.

Those who educate learners must grapple with many different factors outside of school that prompt support programs which compete for the same scarce resources of time, money, and materials that are devoted to the academic preparation for annual assessments of progress.

During a break at the session today I recalled reading about another perspective on a conference that tackled the issue of conflicting or confusing goals in schools. Carl Glickman, the author of Holding Sacred Ground, related an experience at a conference he attended on the subject of effective schools. The blue ribbon panel of experts headlining the meeting delivered studies that collectively defined an effective school. The researchers highlighted characteristics of schools producing high standards of achievement. They listed elements such as - clear vision for the school; frequent monitoring of achievement; curriculum articulation; high rate of engagement between learners and learning; and several other attributes.

However, after the experts finished elaborating on effective schools, an audience member asked about a "good" school, and provided his own interpretation of a good school - a caring and supportive environment; a dynamic and interactive atmosphere; pride; dignity, and a handful of other signs of a good school. The members of the blue ribbon panel agreed on the qualities presented for a good school.

The audience member acknowledged the significant value of both, but he pressed the experts to respond to the question - "If you could only pick one of these two schools for your own child to attend, which would you pick, the effective school or the good school?" The experts reluctantly admitted that although both were desired, and in fact, it's possible for a school to be both effective and good; if they had to select only one they'd opt for the good school.

I would concur with that pick. I want my children to be respected, cared for, treating with dignity, empowered, and nurtured while they are at school. But, I'd also want them to be stretched to think, imagine, explore, achieve, and grow intellectually. You get the challenge facing schools. Be everything, do everything.

That brings us back to today's conference. Bullying and suicide are two different issues that have also intersected at times, like they did in a recent, well publicized case in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where a teenage girl committed suicide as an escape from the intense bullying she experienced, in and out of school. Schools must identify and respond to issues that impact learners, regardless of where the issues originate and what form the issues take. We have the responsibility to treat the boys and girls at school as we would want our own sons and daughters treated. If we don't react appropriately to the needs of the kids on a social, emotional, and psychological level then our efforts to address their academic needs are distracted and undermined. We will soon be publishing an article on our school district website for you with information and important resources listed on bullying, as well as suicide prevention.

It's at this nexus, the intersection of various factors that influence learning, whether they are in-school or out-of-school issues, where our school staff need your assistance as partners. You can begin by recognizing the tremendous challenge of our commitment to simultaneously meet ever increasing state performance standards while also supporting the development of young children as they navigate the ever changing social, emotional, and psychological terrain of today's complex world through adolescence and eventually into adulthood.

Heatly School assumes and accepts the responsibility of being both an effective school and a good school. This effort begins with a commitment to a quote that means a great deal to me: "People don't care about what you know, until they know you care."

Please join us in this pursuit. We'll need your help.

Dr. Michael Mugits

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Magic and School Improvement

This afternoon I presented a magic show in the local park to about 40 Green Island children at the request of the town's recreation program staff. Today was the last day of the summer program and the staff had created a carnival theme, hence the magic show. I have enjoyed performing magic for many years. The smiles and laughter of kids during the shows always provides me with great satisfaction. Their puzzled expressions and their "oohs" and "ahhs" reflect both their astonishment and their inability to solve the mysteries behind the tricks. The unknown arouses their curiosity as they attempt to figure how how the magic worked.

In that respect, magic is often like the process of improving schools. The need to do so arouses curiosity. On first blush, improving schools, like a carefully enacted sleight of hand, is a bit overwhelming to figure out. People are startled and left in amazement, with little or no hope of solving the mystery. However, if I actually showed you how to perform the magic you would be shocked at how simple it was to present. Naturally, there are key steps in the process. Timing is essential. Sequences and patterns are critical. The words of the magician, called "patter," are a vital component to the trick. As long as you know what you're doing, and you've practiced enough, it's rather easy.

I certainly don't expect that it will be at all easy to raise the test scores at Heatly. But, I am confident that we can demonstrate progress, and we won't need magic! It's a matter of finding a difference that will make a difference, by identifying leverage points which can produce success. Timing will be important. Having a clear mission, and a vision for the school that is credible and inspirational, is necessary to convince learners of all ages that the challenge is worth their effort. The "patter" in the case of school improvement involves continuous dialogue on converting data into usable information, understanding the effective tactics of the change process, nurturing the empowerment of staff members, creating and sustaining a viable and dynamic organizational culture, and diffusing leadership to all levels of the staff.

It can be done. It must be done.

We owe it to our children.

Dr. Michael Mugits

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This Doctor Makes House Calls

Green Island is the smallest town in the state of New York - only seven tenths of a square mile. There's no excuse for the school to not be in touch with the community. Green Island Union Free School District is a small school system with a big concern. We were identified by the New York State Department of Education as a School In Need of Improvement (SINI) a couple of years ago due to scores on state mandated tests that were not considered adequate. We had too many learners scoring at either a level 1 or level 2 on the exams. Scores of 3 and 4 are required to display proficiency.

So, I surprised one of our struggling high school learners in mid-July by knocking on the door of his residence and engaging him in a dialogue on learning, commitment, sacrifice, and focus. I wanted to personally demonstrate my commitment to his improvement and also encourage him to accept the challenge of generating increased effort toward his success. He needed to understand how important he is to our school. I'll be monitoring his progress, and that of other under-performing learners, on a regular basis during the school year to extend additional support. We will not escape the grasp of the embarrassing label of a SINI school unless our staff can connect with struggling learners and engage them with relevant and rigorous learning opportunities. Only then will we advance to the mastery level on the annual state assessments.

In addition, I've started making phone calls to parents to introduce myself, ask if they had any questions or comments about the school, invite them to become partners in education, and offer my office phone in the event they want to contact me in the future.

Our school has to continue to reach out to the community. To that end, we have recently combined a quarterly newsletter, an updated website, and a mass, instant emailing system called School News Notifier to keep our community informed. Before I accepted the responsibility of serving Green Island as superintendent of schools I came to town and walked every street within the district to meet people and gain a better perspective of the community. This blog is yet another attempt to communicate. And so is an unexpected knock on the door. Who knows, the next knock you hear might be the superintendent.

Dr. Michael Mugits

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who Am I?

It's logical to wonder about the new superintendent's personal beliefs and values and how they may serve as a guide in his decision making and policy development. What experiences and perspectives might influence his practices, his view on programs, and his positions on issues?

Well, my former 11th grade English teacher would be proud to find out that much of my resolve and convictions are framed by the words of several different early American writers he introduced me to through careful examinations of their literary works in class lectures. First, the essayist and patriot Thomas Paine who served in the War of Independence as an aide to General George Washington. Perhaps his greatest weapon was the quill pen he wielded in political pamphlets designed to inspire people and encourage their commitment to a great cause. Each day I recite the opening paragraph of his famous essay, The Crisis, as a mantra to remind myself of the need to sustain my progress.

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service to their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and respect of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered. Yet, we have this consolation with us; the more harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything value."

Ralph Waldo Emerson contributes to my personal compass with his simple, but profound quote.
"What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

From Henry David Thoreau:
"If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams,
and endeavors to live the life one has imagined,
one will encounter success unexpected in common hours."

These three quotes create a reservoir from which I can draw sustenance. A personal platform constructed on perseverance, commitment, sacrifice, confidence, dreams, imagination, and a quest for success. There you have it. That's who I am.

Dr. Mugits

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Next Chapter

After serving as a principal for over three decades at all levels - elementary, junior high, and high school - I was anxious to influence teaching and learning across all grades of a school system. Most importantly, I was interested in applying my experience and expertise within a small district that would offer a chance to interact at a personal level where an individual can make a difference. In addition, I was seeking a district-wide leadership role within commuting distance of the school district where my wife teaches Kindergarten. The vacant position of superintendent of schools for the Green Island Union Free School District met all of these criteria.

My journey through the search and selection process with various stakeholder groups of Green Island convinced me that this was an attractive leadership opportunity. The atmosphere in the school building was accommodating and caring. There was a genuine sense of community permeating Heatly School. The four high school boys who offered me a guided tour of the facility were cordial, outgoing, and sincere. The meetings with the elementary student council and the high school student council later in the day both proved to be engaging. The questions from the student representatives were thoughtful and reflected a desire to gain an insight into the new superintendent. That exchange was perhaps the most persuasive factor in my decision to accept the post of district leader. Those boys and girls evidenced pride in their school as well as a commitment to be involved in their education beyond the walls of a classroom.

Green Island is the platform for me to assert a pledge to nurture the dreams and sustain the hopes of learners of all ages at all stages. It's a great fit and I'm as excited today about serving Green Island as I was on my first day, July 1st.

This blog is offered as a communications link between the school and community. I will be contributing to the blog on a regular basis as I chronicle my first year as superintendent. Please avail yourself of the opportunity to become involved as a supportive partner in the education of the youth of Green Island by sharing your comments and suggestions.


Dr. Michael Mugits