Steven Chancellor, Ph.D., Centralia R-VI superintendent
Time. It is a simple word but its meaning and use often defines everything about us. Time is particularly relevant to me as it is the focus of all the conversations I have right now.
January marked six months serving the Centralia School District. Leadership transitions bring a variety of emotions: excitement, eagerness, caution, fear. My effectiveness would have been severely limited had I spent the first six months introducing change throughout our organization. Rather, to lead effectively I chose to invest in the district and community by listening and learning. Stephen R. Covey captured my strategy when he suggested we ‘seek first to understand, then be understood.’ It was imperative I invest time in earning people’s trust.
Recently, I have had the fortune of presenting to several community groups about this entry phase, what I have learned and what I am thinking moving forward. I write to you today to share information I have shared with them.
It is important to start with the most crucial finding of this period: we have fine, outstanding students within our schools. I continue to be impressed everyday with their character, effort and respect. This fact alone is energizing as we think about the work to be done moving forward. Partnered with strong teachers, support staff and an exceptional community we possess all the right ingredients for success.
However, as with any recipe, having great individual ingredients does not guarantee they form a great meal. Cooking is all about process, procedures and using the right tools. A school district is no different.
A central theme to my first six months has been the idea of ensuring we always tell the truth. The truth is not personal nor emotional. Truth is simply facts. We can tell the truth with empathy, tact and grace for the sake of improvement instead of for blame and distraction.
Our truth is that while we have strong people, we have areas of deficiency. The good news is we have total control of these areas and we will consciously address each through operational decisions. However, two are philosophical and detailed below.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.