From the “Superintendent’s Corner” – posted May 26, 2017
I am incredibly grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received in Jeffco as I prepare to transition our family from Eagle County to this next adventure. Without exception, the people I’ve met have been gracious, supportive, and excited about the future. I am also grateful for the leadership of Acting Superintendent Terry Elliott, as he and the talented team at Jeffco have been working closely with me in making sure our transition is smooth.
Some of you may wonder, “who is this mysterious figure descending from the mountains to lead Jeffco Public Schools?” While my background and approach to education are widely available, I would like to tell you more about who I am, and some of my initial thinking on where we need to go as a community and educational organization.
Like many of you, I am a parent. My wife Sarah and I have two wonderful, and sometimes exasperating, children! Norah is five and is excited about starting kindergarten in Jeffco this fall. She is all-girl and loves ponies, princesses, and all things purple. She is also a passionate and talented little artist and (I believe) she has a strong sense of curiosity that may make her a scientist one day. Our son Chase is four and is a preschooler. In some ways the mirror opposite of his sister, Chase is all-boy and loves trucks, machines, and going fast. He is also fascinated with putting things together and taking things apart (sometimes to the chagrin of his mother and I). My children have many gifts – the greatest of which is their mother.
My experiences as a parent have had a profound influence on my professional role as an educator. I have learned that our children bring a wonderful diversity of talents into this world. They are budding musicians, writers, philosophers, and mathematicians. We also discover that many of them have innate skills in building relationships, a powerful sense of fairness and what is right, and amazing capacities for love and forgiveness – from which we might learn a lot as adults. The purpose of school is to prepare our children for the world they will inherit. One way schools do this is by having the adults try and establish a curricular experience that will give students the opportunity to learn important concepts and skills, and this is indeed important.
However, we must also create an education system that recognizes this wonderful diversity of human talents already present in our children – and work to nurture and unleash those talents. I am a strong practitioner of a method of improving education known as “international benchmarking.” This idea, borrowed from the business sector, is to observe the lessons from high-performing education systems from within the United States and around the world and then consider how those concepts can be implemented within our context.
What are these best practices from the world’s best education systems? Simply, they focus on improving instruction through alignment to high academic standards, increasing the professionalization of education, and working to tailor instruction to the student. These in-school efforts are then supported by intentionally-designed systems to aggressively confront the well-known and damaging effects of poverty on learning.
Perhaps surprisingly, these lessons from the world’s best education systems are direct, straightforward, and uncomplicated. In short, they ask us to focus on improving instruction at the student level and to mitigate the effects of poverty for children in the community.
The lessons I have learned as an education professional studying these systems has a heavy influence on my approach to building great schools and the ideas from international benchmarking define for us “best practices” on which school systems need to be working.
But these best practices are not enough. We must also ask our schools to consider the abundant diversity of talents and abilities our children bring forward, to ignite their passions, and support their dreams. To accomplish this, we must ask our schools to be entrepreneurial, to take calculated risks, and to innovate. We need these concepts for our schools to develop those “next practices” in preparing students for their futures.
I wake up excited every day thinking about the positive things we are going to do for kids in our community. This is a wonderful place, with amazing and talented people, and so many good things happening for kids already. It is upon this foundation that we will build.
I am incredibly proud to be your Superintendent, and I am ready to get to work!
Dr. Jason Glass