By Tara Cavanaugh
Easily the most anticipated part of this year’s Opening Day celebration on Aug. 27 was the arrival of Dr. Jeanice Swift.
The day was also the AAPS Superintendent’s first official work day, and as all eyes were on her, she promoted a message of togetherness, confidence, unity and excellence.
“Today is not about me. Today is about you, our incredible, exceptional AAPS staff. It’s about your preparation for each and every one of our 16,500 students whom we will greet and welcome through our doors in only one week.”
Dr. Swift shared a Balinese tradition: When strangers pass each other on a road, the first thing they ask is “Where are you going?” and “Where are you coming from?”
“To a Westerner this may seem like a rather invasive inquiry from a perfect stranger on the road. But when the Balinese inquire in this way they are trying to get an orientation on you –– trying to insert you in the geographic grid for the purposes of security and comfort,” Dr. Swift said.
“It’s really not so different for organizations. Every organization has a story, and across our teams in AAPS, across our teams large and small, we are all coming from somewhere and we are all progressing.”
In an effort to share that progress and orientation, four AAPS staff shared their experiences in short speeches similar to TED Talks. TED Talks, now popular online, are a global set of conferences curated by the Sapling Foundation to share “ideas worth spreading” on the subjects of technology, entertainment and design.
The talks were given by Mitchell teacher Wendy Rothman, Scarlett teacher Ellen Daniel, Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Alesia Flye and Pioneer teacher Don Packard. The talks focused on language to use with students, leveraging community resources, the AAPS staff trip to Singapore this summer and how to inspire literacy.
Dr. Swift concluded the celebration with an African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
“Going far is the nature of our work. We’re in the business of growing students for a lifetime. And this year’s kindergarten students, whom we will welcome one week from today, will be the graduating class of 2026. I plan to shake their hand and hand them their diplomas,” she said to a round of applause.
“We will go far. We must go far. And absolutely we must go together.”
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