We always welcome your thoughts! Please feel free to comment on specific posts or send your comments to us at feedback@tamdistrict.org.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Strategic Plan Update

One of the primary responsibilities of a school board is to set a direction for the district.  In order to fulfill this responsibility, there are several specific jobs that effective boards must carry out: 
  1. Collaboratively develop a mission focused on learning and achievement of all students.  A mission describes a future toward which the district is moving.
  2. Establish priorities, which are the major areas that must be addressed in order to make progress toward the mission.
  3. Set strategic goals in each priority area.
Several years ago, the Tam District Board of Trustees worked through focus groups of parents, students, teachers, staff, and community members to set a mission for the district.  Strategic priorities and goals were then set with the intention of deliberately moving toward a future in which the mission is true for all students.  Because setting direction is not a one-time event, progress toward the strategic goals is reported to the board regularly, and goals are updated annually to reflect new data and changing circumstances.
To read the recently updated TUHSD mission, priorities, and strategic goals click here.
As you can see, this TUHSD direction-setting document is a visual reminder that all work in the district is in service to our mission.  This document, which is sometimes referred to as the, "mission map," allows us to have one foot in the present and one foot in the future.  As we focus on what is working, we can move from where we are toward an even better place through strategic thinking and supporting risk-taking and innovation.
You will also notice that our direction-setting document differs from other organizations in that it is self-contained on one page rather than a multi-paged booklet format.  To help you understand the format we have used, the diagram below points to where the essential elements of mission, priorities, and strategic goals can be located on the mission map.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Preparing Learners & Leaders for the 21st Century ~ Unveiling the Tam District Video

At the Tamalpais Union High School District, we are committed to providing our students with a myriad of educational opportunities to prepare them for life after high school.  We have been working diligently toward this goal for the last few years, and we recognize the importance of sharing our work with our stakeholders--because an informed community is an invaluable partner in the success of our students.  To this end, we have created a short video highlighting some of our work of the last three years.  
We chose the video format as a means to address several of the district's "Community Relations" strategic goals: 
  • Utilize most effective means of communication with the district's internal and external stakeholders
  • Develop an understanding of the school district by providing a flow of information about policies, programs, and progress of the schools
  • Bring about community understanding of the need for continuous improvement and what must be done to facilitate that improvement
The video features staff and students who volunteered for this opportunity.  They either spoke extemporaneously or developed their own script. 
The full-length video is about eight minutes long, but for your convenience, I have linked the three-minute "Sneak Peek" preview here

The short promotional video is featured on our website, and the full-length version will be used as a basis for discussion with staff, parents, and community members throughout the 2013-2014 school year. 
Tam District parents will have multiple opportunities to view the full-length video at meetings of the PTSA, Foundation, advisory councils, and the like.  If your school or community organization  is interested in delving further into the work of the Tam District, please contact me at feedback@tamdistrict.org to schedule a time for a trustee and I to share the video and discuss our efforts with your group. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Welcome New Trustees!

I am excited to announce that after what seems like a long wait, the election is over and we now have our new Tamalpais Union High School District trustees.
The successful candidates in yesterday's election were Laura Anderson, Chuck Ford, and Sheri Mowbray, shown below:

All three of the new trustees will be able to hit the ground running because of their understanding of the day-to-day work of our schools.  Laura and Sheri are parents of current students, and Chuck recently retired after 18 years as a TUHSD teacher.
We are lucky that we had an election in which all five candidates were well qualified.  I will reach out to the other candidates and invite them to stay active and involved in our schools.
Our new trustees will take the oath of office at the December 11 Board of Trustees meeting.  They will officially begin their board service that evening.
Well-deserved congratulations to Laura Anderson, Chuck Ford, and Sheri Mowbray!

Photo courtesy of the Marin Independent Journal

Monday, November 4, 2013

Helping Homeless Teens in Marin County

It's such a luxury to be able to work and live in the beauty and abundance of Marin County.  At first glance, it often seems that all our teens are healthy, happy, high achieving, and well on their way to a bright future.  But if we really pay attention, we know that what is true for most is not necessarily true for all.  It can be easy for us to forget about those who don't have a life of plenty, and in fact, do not even have a family or a home to return to at night.
It is hard to even visualize what it must be like to be a homeless teen in Marin.  Can you imagine waking up every day:
  • Not knowing where you will be living
  • Feeling alone, lost, anxious, depressed, angry, and hopeless
  • With no medical or dental care
  • Mistrusting the systems and adults who haven't been there for you
  • With the stress of carrying all your personal items from one place to another
  • With no financial reserves for emergencies
  • Overwhelmed by lack of skills and resources to earn a living wage
These are the daily realities for a homeless teen!
Part of the beauty of Marin is the willingness of its residents to help others.  There are many organizations that help the homeless, but there is a very special organization called "Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity," or "AHO," which is dedicated to assisting Marin's homeless teens.
Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity started in November 2007, when Kevin Ippolito, age 22, Amy Phelan, age 23, and Mario Rangel, age 21, conceived of finding a way to "give back" for the help they had received.  AHO was created as a non-profit organization focused solely on providing a safety net of stable housing, guidance, and community connections for young adults, ages 16 to 25, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Marin County.  AHO is a relationship- and community-based model that engages youths who have been previously homeless in the solution as youth outreach advisors, peer mentors, program advisors, board members, and spokespersons of their experiences.
As superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District, I am aware of many helpful and well organized community agencies, but as I learn more about the work of AHO, I am in awe of its mission and its model to engage former homeless youths in the solution to help others.  If you would like to learn more about the work of Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity, visit their websitewww.ahoproject.org
For those of you who would like to see an example of the good work of this organization, there is an art show of AHO work that will be at the Corte Madera Community Center from November 10 through December 1.  Also, the whole community is invited to a reception at the Community Center hosted by the Corte Madera Lions Club on Friday, November 15, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.  I will certainly be there to meet some of the artists and learn more about Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity.  I hope you will join me in support of this fine organization.

What:      AHO Reception Hosted by the Corte Madera Lions Club
Where:    Corte Madera Community Center
When:     Friday, November 15, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

The majority of information included in this post is from the AHO website.