By Jason E. Glass, Ed.D.
Your first year on the job... a difficult position you stepped into. If you could get a “do over” on one thing, what would it be?
On reflection, I think this has been a very successful first year and that I was a good match for Jeffco (and vice-versa). However, there were certainly lots of difficult challenges we worked through and things I have learned from which will make me an even more effective superintendent going forward.
The work in Jeffco was to get (and keep) the focus on teaching and learning in spite of all the disruptions and distractions that come our way.
The first disruption was the introduction of new leader into Jeffco Public Schools. While I worked hard to understand the context and background in Jeffco before making big moves, a new CEO in an organization sees things differently, has different priorities, and makes different decisions than what was previously expected.
We also introduced a new direction and strategic plan in October of 2017, with the release of the Jeffco Generations document, which outlines a multi-year vision for the future of education in Jeffco. While this built on previous efforts already underway, it did cause us to refocus (and in some cases redirect) resources and energy toward getting this plan moving.
The fall also brought another contentious board election for Jeffco. When I was hired in Jeffco, I fully understood it could be a four-plus-year job, or a four-month job, depending greatly on the outcome of that election! The community ended up backing the incumbents by a wide margin, which I believe will gives us the stability we need in Jeffco to see the strategic plan through to some real progress and accomplishments.
Fast forwarding to February, we had the Parkland, Florida shooting – which created reverberations across the entire nation. The impact was certainly felt here in Jeffco, given our history with school violence. This led to student demonstrations and walkouts, where we worked to find a balance of respecting the student’s rights while also keeping the focus on learning and the students safe.
Later in the spring, we also had to cancel school one day due to a staff outage for a protest at the capitol regarding education funding. Without doubt, this was disruptive to students and families – although we understand the reason and arguments those who participated had when it comes to school funding in Colorado, which are well known.
I also believe that I learned a great deal about Jeffco’s culture and history in this first year. Any errors or mistakes I made this year were mostly associated with being new to the community and this context. Going forward, I believe I will be even more effective in future years as I have a much stronger grasp of the stories and background of this place and its schools.
Overall, I think we had a very successful year in spite of some significant challenges and disruptions. I’m really happy that our family made the decision to come to Jeffco and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this job every day. This is a good place and community with wonderful educators. There is much to build on here and I’m excited about taking the next steps with our schools and the community.
Jason E. Glass, Ed.D., is superintendent and “Chief Learner” of Jeffco Public Schools; www.jeffcopublicschools.org.
If you have a question for the superintendent please submit it to Guy@NostalgicHomes.com or call it in to 303-999-5789.