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Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflecting, Looking Ahead and a Message of Gratitude

Dear RVSD Families,

Happy holidays!  This is the time of year when we all hopefully have the opportunity to be with loved ones, enjoy the spirit of the season and feel gratitude for the abundance in our lives. It is also a time when many, like our ever-growing Children for Change club, reach out with helping hands and open hearts to give back, pay it forward and brighten the season for others.

The holidays also signal the ending of one year and the beginning of another.  This annual transition of calendar years offers us a chance to pause and reflect on what will soon be in our rearview mirror.  More importantly, the coming year gives us an opportunity to begin anew, charting a path into the future that respects what we’ve learned from the past while embracing the changes that are inevitably ahead.   

In reflecting back and looking forward, I am grateful and humbled to be the Superintendent of this outstanding school district.  Here is why:

Our remarkable students remind us every day why education is our chosen profession.  From transitional kindergarten students constructing models of robots to eighth graders researching and recreating characters from the Civil War period, our students continuously amaze and inspire us with what they are learning, thinking about and doing. 

Of course, schools and school districts cannot accomplish much without highly competent district and school leaders, teachers and staff.  In every position classification we are privileged to have such individuals, who collectively are the team that makes RVSD a great place for all students to learn and grow. 

Our district and site administrators are true servant leaders, who share a vision for the future and are leading the changes necessary to realize it. Our outstanding teachers focus on the whole child with their whole heart, inspiring and transforming their student learners into a generation that will one day be responsible for shaping our world and its future. Our dedicated staff, who often work quietly behind-the-scenes making all the things happen that keep our district running, proudly also serve as educators, leaders and role models for our students and for us. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them all, in this time of reflection and always, for their unwavering dedication each day.

I am also very grateful for our volunteers, the YES Foundation, our parent clubs and site councils, those who help in the classrooms and on field trips, our civic leaders, and community partners – each and every parent/guardian and community member who has a hand in supporting our RVSD students.  The many decades-long success of our District is due in no small part to “the village” it takes to make great things happen.  We are all so lucky to live, work, and play in such a village.  

We are  truly fortunate to have an incredibly experienced, hard working, bright, creative and student-centered group of senior District leaders.  These are professional educators of the very highest caliber, whose skill sets and real-world experience complement one another and who expertly wear the many hats required to lead a small District with limited resources. They are wise and trustworthy and their leadership is helping our District move ever-forward. Assembling the right team of leaders in the same place at the same time is rare in my experience, but we have it here and our District benefits each day from all this talented team brings to the table.  

Continuity in our District’s human resources is crucial to our ongoing success.  The fact that so many of our leaders, teachers and staff are dedicated to RVSD, and choose to remain here, is testimony to their commitment to our District, our schools and your children.  I am so honored to be on this journey with them all!

I am proud to serve with the phenomenal Board of Trustees you elected to govern the Ross Valley School District. In my 40 years of service to California public education, they are second to none in their unified devotion to doing what is best for all students in our district. They willingly give of their precious time and abundant talent, with no compensation, to make the decisions you empower and expect of true community leaders. These decisions are often rooted in complex and intricate detail that take significant time, thought and research to fully know and comprehend.  

Equipped with a depth of knowledge individual community members typically don’t have the time themselves to acquire and uniformly understand, your elected Trustees are often faced with making difficult decisions that at times may run contrary to the opinions and wishes of colleagues, friends and neighbors but are made in the best interests of children. Such decisions require steadfast integrity, moral courage and selfless commitment, often in the face of adversity.  Thank you for joining me in expressing our deepest appreciation and gratitude, to Anne, Annelise, Amy, Mark and Wesley, for their fine stewardship on behalf of all RVSD students.

Finally, there would not be a Ross Valley School District if it weren’t for you, our RVSD families.  Your children are the reason we exist -  the only reason. They are why we get up each morning to do this work every day and why we believe so strongly in public schools that welcome all students who come through the door.  The situations we work through are sometimes complex. We know that not everyone will always agree with every decision.  And we know that changes are hard, particularly when they might impact our individual children, who are most precious to us as parents. 

But we also believe that in spite of the imperfections in a continually moving and changing education system, ours is the most elegant of all choices for giving children the opportunities and experiences they will need to succeed in our increasingly small, yet diverse, world.  So thank you again for allowing us the privilege of working with your children.  And as always, your perspectives and input are important to us.  I’ve heard personally from many of you and thank you all for sharing your thoughts, ideas, questions and concerns.  Thanks in particular, to so many of you who have written to share your heartfelt support of all we are doing and hope to do, to make RVSD an even better district in the months and years ahead.

Successful and sustained operation of schools and school districts is hard work - much more difficult than it looks on paper. Your continued confidence in our ability to lead RVSD forward is what nourishes and keeps us going.  Thank you for that and  thanks for taking the time to read this message.  On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire team here at RVSD, I wish you and your family all the very best this holiday season and always. 

May 2017 be a bountiful, kind and fulfilling year for us all.

In Gratitude,

Rick