As our school district embarks upon a new era, it is important to remember the traditions and foundations of an outstanding school system. Superintendent Ray Braswell has given his life, his family, and his heart to this community, and our students have greatly benefited.
As the new superintendent of Denton ISD, the first order of business is to recognize Dr. Braswell’s work, honor his commitment, and publicly acknowledge him for a job well done. With the support of our current and former trustees, his contributions will continue and the legacy of his commitment to excellence will endure.
In this new era, our district will focus on increasing the engagement amongst all stakeholders in our school system. In 2011, the 82nd Texas State Legislature introduced statewide funding cuts that greatly affected public schools. Legislative cuts handed down an $11 million shortfall for our district, which resulted in reducing 285 positions.
These reductions resulted in fewer teachers, fewer support staff and created larger class sizes. It is a priority to create a sense of urgency for our stakeholders to advocate for public education at the state level by requesting the Texas Legislature to support the necessary resources teachers need to be successful with each student.
Regardless, we will continue to advocate and support early childhood education and post-secondary readiness for the graduates of Denton ISD. Our district will lead the state in providing partnership opportunities in our schools. Parent and community involvement have traditionally been measured in volunteer hours or time at the school. These efforts will continue, as our students need such support.
We will also embark upon discovering new ways to measure the level of engaging activities. Reading with children, mentoring students, job shadowing and parent education classes are important to student learning. These will be assessed and expanded to further the academic growth of our students.
As we grow into a more technological world, there are many ways to gather community input, solicit stakeholders and provide feedback. Our district will be using such tools to ask the community for their contributions, reflections and direction. The purpose will be to refine our district’s motto, mission, vision and goals. This community participation will provide continuous improvement of our school system.
Our commitment to creating opportunities for all children entering kindergarten “school ready” is a major emphasis for our district and Board. To achieve such a task, we will need the engagement of many community resources.
In the days to come, we will explore opportunities to leverage non-profit resources with those of our district to enhance early childhood education for all in need. Our community traditionally supports such initiatives, and we look forward to broadening the scope of early childhood education. Our goal is to populate every early childhood classroom in the district to its capacity.
Denton ISD remains committed to preparing students for post-secondary success. Our graduates need to be ready for what awaits them. It will be necessary for our students to thrive in an ever-changing global economy: learning independently, developing communication skills, and having the ability to work with others.
Many of our graduates will go to college, and our teachers and programs will focus on their preparation. Others will enter the workplace, and we will need to ensure that these students are employable and exceed local employers’ requirements. Our efforts at the Lagrone Advanced Technology Complex are examples of such preparations. The goal is to motivate our students to achieve; it's not enough to just apply the same methods more rigorously to kids who aren't responding.
The process of reaching such standards is in the hands of talented teachers. The fastest, most reliable way to improve education is simply fostering the conditions that lead educators to creative approaches – challenging student’s one situation at a time. The sense of engagement among our teachers creates a great learning environment. We plan to continue providing teachers collaboration time for professional learning and discussion.
It is a great honor to serve the community of Denton as Superintendent of Schools. We look forward to providing the best educational experience for all of our students, granting the resources necessary for teachers to be successful and continuing the focus on student learning.
The future is not something you enter, it is something WE create. Together. Join us in creating our future.
Dr. Jamie Wilson is Superintendent of the Denton Independent School District