As your Superintendent, I attended my last commencements this past weekend.  For the rest of my life, I know that I will never forget the feeling of pride that wells up in me as I shake hands with each graduate. This moment is the “why” behind our work.  We do what we do in order to educate our students so they can successfully navigate their futures. It has been my complete honor to have been a part of this mission for the past 34 years!

As I contemplated this farewell Newsbits piece, I harkened back to the messages of my first Convocation speech in 2013. I think the themes continue to be relevant:

  • If you don’t love GFPS, no one else will. We must ride for the brand.
  • We can’t do it alone, but we can do it together. We must continue to foster community partnerships.
  • Dance with the one that “brung” you. Public schools are public entities and need public input.
  • Work hard. Play hard. There’s a reason it’s called “work”.  Celebrate its outcomes.

In order to do all of the above, you must tell your stories.  “Riding for the brand” doesn’t mean being silent.  It means acting and speaking in ways that further the vision of the GFPS:  All kids engaged in learning today, for lift tomorrow.  It means sticking up for your work, your colleagues and your students.  It means asking others to join you as you advocate for public education.  As I noted in the opinion editorial that was printed in yesterday’s Tribune, “Listen to the caring voices of those actually doing the work in our schools.  They will tell you that your investment is crucial because education is the game-changer, the door-opener.”  The community can’t hear you if you don’t speak up.

As we say goodbye to our students this week and as I finish my last month of work, a single word comes to mind:  BITTERSWEET.  It’s sweet in that I am looking forward to spending time with my family and at my home.  It is bitter, because I know there is so much work left to do for our kids, our community and our future.  It’s also sweet, however, because I know that we have the right people on this great big bus to meet the challenges that are before us and those that are sure to come.  I know you will continue to work miracles in our classrooms, hallways, schools and district!  Please know that I will be watching and listening for your uprising!  Please know that I will be cheering you on!

Thank you for your support over the last six years.  Being your superintendent has truly been one of the most important things I have done in my life.  For the last time, I remind you to take care, be safe and stay well!

Always and Forever GFPS,