A message from Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Dear Board Members,
This week, which marks the fifth week of our fall semester, has certainly been eventful. Throughout this week, our district staff have been leaning forward together with humanity and intentionality as we continue making strides towards the standard of excellence, while employing an equity lens. As such, district and building leaders have been incorporating the voices of students, staff, families, and community members in our decision-making and operations. These discussions have shaped our work and fueled our efforts to align policy and practice with the ideals of our Strategic Framework.
Goal 2 of our Strategic Framework expresses our aspiration to make every school and learning space a place where all students, staff, and family members thrive. An intentional review of news stories, as well as the websites and social media platforms of our high schools, provides examples of our efforts to live up to Goal 2. East High’s new music teacher (Ruben Arndt) and alumnus (Wilder Deitz) were recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal’s “School Spotlight.” In a Facebook posting, we discovered La Follette High alumnae Natalie White and Gina Malagold taught English this summer as part of Israel’s TALMA teaching fellowship. According to their school websites, West High is celebrating Homecoming this week through Spirit Week activities, while Memorial High’s Homecoming celebrations will take place next week. Last week, information on their school website revealed Shabazz High students were exposed to articulated skilled trades opportunities through a visit by the Madison College Fire Science program. Finally, Capital High’s Adopt-a-School partner is Blackhawk Church Downtown, according to a posting on their school website.
Goal 3 of our Strategic Framework gives the assurance all African American children and youth will excel in our schools. Research by Gersheson et. al (2017), Quintero (2019), Toldson (2019), and Wilson et al (2020) argues the presence of racially diverse staff in our schools positively impacts the academic and other outcomes of Black and Brown students. Therefore, we have planned recruiting visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to diversify our pool of applicants for teaching and other positions in our district. Pictures from this week’s visits to Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University are provided in this Weekly Update.
As we consider the trauma associated with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial/social injustice, we must make intentional efforts to extend human decency to our staff. As a result, this week we reinforced our decision to tweak the pacing for LETRS professional development (PD) in response to hearing the voices of our instructional staff. We want to ensure there is an appropriate and healthy balance between providing important PD based on the Science of Reading and supporting the social-emotional needs of our students and staff. Often, we must remember to “go slow to go fast” as we lean forward together on our journey towards the standard of excellence. Needless to say, we are doing this in the middle of a dual pandemic, and, at times, we are going to have to pivot to support our students, staff and families.
Thanks for your continued support and partnership. We look forward to providing you with more updates on our district’s progress and planning next week.
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.