Authenticity is so vitally important. As people, we are all curious as to the intentions of others. Are they really like this when no one is looking? Are they this nice, this mean, this genuine in all areas of their lives? This is equally important within our schools, when working with our community and parents, and when developing relationships with students.
Have you ever wondered, “I wonder what the teachers, principals, and other administrators talk about when no one else is listening?” “What do they say about their profession, their schools, their students, and us, the parents?”
Recently I put out an offer to every District 142 employee: “Who would like to join me in an online, Google Classroom book study?” This was open to teachers, secretaries, our maintenance team, administrators, paraprofessionals, Board of Education members and more. In order to participate, you would volunteer to read the chosen book, donate your time to participate in the online book chats, and reflect on your practice and position in the District. Nearly 70 employees jumped on board for a discussion on Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell. This leadership book examines the Disney Corporation through the eyes of one of their executives.
To answer the question above, “What do our school people talk about?,” the following thoughts and comments were derived from our recent District-wide book talk. The participants did not realize at the time that their words would be shared publicly — the epitome of being “genuinely known.” These words are shared by the people working with the students and parents in District 142! Enjoy getting to know us better!
- “Good customer service in a school setting means working as a team with, parents/guardians, and telling them you want to work with them. Being willing to have an ‘open line of communication’ so that parents know you are always willing to give your best for their student.”
- “I want our parents to feel welcome in our buildings and comfortable sending their kids to us every day. I want my staff to feel appreciated and supported. I want our students to feel loved and safe. I want it to be such a great experience for all of the people we serve that they let everyone know what a great place D142 is and we are doing great things for our students.”
- “First impressions are huge in customer service – so this leads me to be very intentional about how I start my day with my students… making them feel encouraged and excited for what’s ahead.”
- “When students/parents/co-workers enter my room I want them to feel welcomed. I want them to feel warmth, love, support, important, included, and safe.”
- “The ‘customer service’ part of our job as educators goes back to asking, ‘Who are we here for and what is our goal?’ If students and their families are at the center of our work, then making sure they feel heard, valued, and part of the team should be as important a priority as anything else.”
- “I love when students ask questions I don’t know the answer to and we can research and find out together! Engaging in that learning process alongside them also adds to building relationships with them.”
Itell my students often that my job is to prepare them to be exceptional in the future. We like to discuss and dream about the amazing careers and titles they may hold in the future, and then we talk about how we get there! The answer is hard work and a desire for lifelong learning.”
These thoughts and words are but a small reflection of the heart and soul of District 142. But, they are rooted in District 142’s motto of “always putting children first.” Thank you for the opportunity to serve and to genuinely know the wonder and potential of your children.
Dr. Paul McDermott