By Jo Mathis
Eighty Ann Arbor Public Schools leaders gathered for the first day of the 2015-16 Instructional Council Leadership Retreat Tuesday.
The daylong event was an information-filled kick-off to the school year for building principals and heads of Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Operations, and Student Intervention and Support Services (SISS).
“Today was an important day as we welcomed back our district leaders and provided them with updated information and training that they will need for this coming school year,” said Superintendent Jeanice Swift.
The district this year will emphasize the act of caring, which is one of AAPS’ core values.
“It is essential to keep our core values in mind, and we wanted to highlight how much we care about our students, their families, and our community,” Swift said. “It goes without saying that we all chose this profession because we care, but it is also important to say it out loud and let everyone know that we are here because we care.”
There is also a new push this year for all schools to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter as another way to reach parents, students and the broader community.
Burns Park Elementary Principal Chuck Hatt is all for it.
“Digital media is a powerful tool for broadening and amplifying our conversation,” said Hatt. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to use new tools with my friends and colleagues to build narratives which celebrate the wonderful ways that our teachers and students are building a better future for our community and the larger world.”
He noted that recent brain research has strengthened our understanding that memory, emotion, and cognition are interrelated and interdependent.
“Human beings can grow into their full potential when their social, emotional, and physical needs are met,” he said. “Yesterday we were reminded that care and compassion are the building blocks for a vibrant learning community. How grateful we are to be gathered to serve and care for the children and families of Ann Arbor.”
The administrative retreats are invigorating, said Dicken Elementary Principal Michael Madison.
“They help us reconnect with colleagues, develop a common vision for the district and our buildings, and kick off the start of the school year in an exciting and informative format,” he said, adding that he’s pleased with the increased emphasis on social media to “celebrate the wonderful things our schools are doing.”
The district leaders will meet again next week to set goals and review guidelines and changes in the district.