Big goals for 2012-13

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

August 31, 2012

Dear SAISD Staff,

Welcome back to a new school year! I hope you all had a great first week.
What a great kick-off to the 2012-13 school year we had at the back-to-school convocation last week! It was wonderful to see the entire SAISD family together, enthusiastic and excited about the start of school. Our students, I’m sure, have recognized your spirit and energy.
Keynote speaker Erin Gruwell's story blended well with our goal of increasing rigor in reading and writing throughout the District this year, and Bruce Bowen's personal stories were relatable. We have our own struggling students, and though we have heard it before, it’s great to reinforce the message that one teacher, one adult, can make a difference. The convocation's success is an example of great teamwork by staff and our business partners. Thanks to the SAISD Foundation for its support of this wonderful event.
I had the opportunity to visit several campuses this week and can report that schools are in mid-season form: school buildings are spotless, cafeterias are busy preparing food offerings, maintenance is trouble shooting, administrators and counselors are busy accommodating new students and parents. Teachers are teaching, AND students are learning – and that’s why we’re here!
Our District mission statement makes it clear that our purpose is to graduate and educate our students so they are prepared to be contributing members of our community. On Monday, the Board of Trustees revised the statement, introducing another element: To transform SAISD into a national model urban school district where every child graduates and is educated so that he or she is prepared to be a contributing member of the community.
The mission statement had not been updated in six years, and the revision comes as the Board works to raise the standards for the entire district. The board is also developing specific objectives and measures in support of the mission and will be discussing them in the future. This will be particularly challenging in many areas, such as maintaining the current decrease in dropouts and increase in graduation rates, under new accountability standards. Results for the class of 2012 may be negatively affected as a result of these changes. 
To be sure, we are raising that bar for our students and staff. That is seen with this year’s priority to increase the rigor in reading and writing. Each employee should have received a journal at convocation, or in the following days, and campuses will ensure that students also have journals. Students will be expected to do journal-writing in all core subject areas, not just reading or English language arts. We want them to use journal writing as a tool for digesting and processing what they learn in math, science and social studies, as well. As employees, we can serve as role models for our students, writing in the spiral-bound starter journals provided to us.
It’s time to pick up your pens and write! Here’s your first assignment: What did you experience the first week of school? As you put pen to paper, think about the writing rules you would share with your students.
I look forward to all that we can accomplish together in the coming year. I will continue to serve as your interim superintendent throughout the search for a permanent leader, and you can expect to receive a message like this from me each month (instead of each week, as you did last year) during my time here.

Best regards,
Dr. Sylvester Perez
Interim Superintendent

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