Earning Public Confidence in Seattle Public Schools:
Every Student Known, Challenged, Cared For
Dr. Susan Enfield
March 25, 2011
My Immediate Priorities
This is a time of great challenge, but also great opportunity for Seattle Public Schools.
Since being appointed Interim Superintendent on March 2, I have received many
sincere, practical offers of support and partnership from students, teachers, staff,
families, community leaders and organizations across our city. I am confident that our
community stands ready to come together to focus on what matters most: our students.
As your Interim Superintendent, I pledge to work with all of you to ensure the education
of our children remains our top priority. In the months ahead, there will be multiple
opportunities for you to share your concerns and ideas with me and I look forward to
For the remainder of this school year, my goal is to create a strong foundation for the
future of Seattle Public Schools. My top priorities between now and June include:
1. Focusing on our core mission: providing every student with an excellent
Continuing our commitment to Excellence for All, our five-year strategic
plan, with an eye to making adjustments in light of budget constraints.
Supporting struggling students by involving principals and teachers in
creating a comprehensive plan for increasing student achievement
through high-quality instruction and interventions.
Moving towards becoming a standards-based system that ensures high
expectations and common outcomes for all students.
2. Supporting teachers and principals
Partnering with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the
Principals Association of Seattle Schools (PASS) to implement recently
approved contracts with a particular focus on how we can all share
responsibility for student achievement.
Ensuring that our Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) system is being
implemented well so it becomes a tool for teachers to use in tailoring their
instruction to meet the individual needs of students.
3. Creating a central office that serves and supports schools
Reorganizing departments across finance, operations, and teaching and
learning with a clear focus on being a results-driven organization.
Building partnerships between central office and school staff to better
meet the needs of all students.
4. Fostering a system-wide culture of transparency and accountability
Continuing to partner with the City of Seattle and other agencies to
strengthen our internal controls.
Creating a system that provides opportunities for two-way communications
among staff, families and community.
I know public confidence is earned through strong leadership, and I am committed to
ensuring that every Seattle Public Schools student is known, challenged and cared for.
By early May, I will report back to staff and the community on what I have heard and
learned and how that information might be incorporated into our work moving forward.
Listening and Engagement Plan
Earning trust and confidence among our staff, parents, families, students and the
community will not be easy. As Interim Superintendent, I vow to be honest and
transparent with our budget, our policies and our programs.
One of my core beliefs is that our system becomes stronger as we listen to and
incorporate stakeholder voices in our plans. I commit to meeting with, and listening to,
students, staff, principals, families, School Board members, elected leaders and our
community. Listed below are just some of the upcoming opportunities for all of us to
engage in conversations to make sure every student receives an excellent education.
There will be other opportunities, and given that dates are subject to change, I
encourage to you visit the District Calendar to receive up-to-date information on times
1. Outreach to parents, families and the community
Given my commitment to supporting staff in the district and engaging with the
community, I will commit to protecting, to the best of my ability, two times on my
calendar each week, including:
Tuesday mornings in schools. I will be in schools to learn firsthand the
progress we are making in our classrooms and discover ways we can
more effectively support students, teachers, staff and principals. While in
schools I will meet one-on-one with principals and with other staff in small
groups to gather input and provide feedback.
Thursday Office Hours. I will host weekly office hours each Thursday
from 4-5:30 p.m. To ensure each individual or group receives my focused
attention I ask that you schedule time to visit me at the John Stanford
Center by contacting Venetia Harmon at email@example.com or
by calling 206-252-0167. The purpose of these office hours is for me to
hear directly from staff and community members their concerns, questions
Highlights of my upcoming outreach to parents, students and the community
Coffee with the Superintendent: The first of these will be next Tuesday,
March 29th, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. the Central Library,1000 Fourth Avenue,
10th floor, Betty Jane Narver Reading Room. Additional coffee chats will
follow throughout the year. All are open to the general public.
Engaging Seattle Council PTSA: Along with Robert Boesche, Interim
CFO, I will be meeting with the Seattle Council PTSA at a general meeting
on March 30 to hear feedback on the school budgeting process and
answer questions. Our partnership with SCPTSA will continue to remain a
priority for me and my staff.
Continuing the Superintendent’s Family Partnership Advisory
Council: I am scheduled to meet April 12 with this appointed group, which
meets regularly with our Manager of Family & Community Engagement to
provide advice and counsel on district initiatives. The Council also
provides an invaluable service in helping to share key district information
with our diverse communities.
Meeting with key stakeholder groups representing our families: As
Chief Academic Officer I met with many groups representing our families
and I will continue this practice as Interim Superintendent. These groups
include, but are not limited to the Special Education PTSA, Special
Education Advisory Council, Native American Parent Advisory Council,
Accelerated Progress Program and Spectrum Advisory groups and the
Alternative Schools Coalition. Next week I will be meeting with members
of the East African community, the Seattle Council PTSA, and members of
the Native American community.
2. Outreach to teachers, principals and staff
Engaging and inspiring employees is central to my work as Interim
Superintendent. Our employees care deeply about the success of our students
and I will ensure that they have access to me and multiple opportunities to share
suggestions, concerns and celebrations.
Highlights of my upcoming outreach to teachers and staff include:
Initiating “Soup with the Supe.” I will meet informally over the lunch
hour with teachers and other staff at their schools to hear firsthand from
them their suggestions, concerns and celebrations. Thanks to our
outstanding Child Nutrition Services Department, I will be providing soup
for us to enjoy during these conversations.
Establishing a Teacher Advisory Council. I am working with the Seattle
Education Association to create a Teacher Advisory Council comprised of
representatives from all regions of the district. Our teachers know what is,
and is not, working in classrooms. This will be an opportunity for me to
listen carefully to their ideas and concerns so that decisions made at
central office truly support the work in classrooms.
Hosting informal brown bag lunches and after-school gatherings. As
Chief Academic Officer, I established regular times to meet informally with
small groups of principals and assistant principals. I will continue these
throughout the school year.
Hosting central office meetings. I will host these at least once per
quarter, and as needed, to share information, gather feedback and answer
questions. Meetings will be held at a variety of times so that our central-
based staff who work in schools, including maintenance and trades
workers, can attend.
3. Outreach to labor partners
Working collaboratively and effectively with our labor association partners is
critical to student and system success. I appreciate the major changes reflected
in our new collective bargaining agreements with the Seattle Education
Association (SEA) and Principals Association of Seattle Schools (PASS).
All of us are working in public education for one reason: to ensure student
success. We must rebuild a respectful, trusting and professional collaboration
with all of our labor associations. I pledge to lead that work, and to ensure that all
district staff are similarly committed to the values of trust, openness, collaboration
and accountability that must be the hallmark of our organization.
Highlights of my upcoming outreach to labor partners include:
Continuing regular meetings with SEA, PASS and 609 leadership to
work through contract implementation and address challenges we
face, all with a focus on student achievement. We will discuss with
these associations whether the current structure of meetings and
subcommittees is working well, and collaboratively adjust as needed.
Identifying additional opportunities for me to engage with our labor
partners and their members, such as attending an SEA board meeting
and representative assembly.
I will maintain a focus on our core mission: providing every student with an excellent
education. To that end, all of us at central office will also partner with and support our
teachers, staff and principals to ensure that we are providing the services our schools
All of this will be done in the spirit of open, honest and transparent communication.
I want to thank all of you—staff, families and community partners for your support of our
students and our schools. I do not take this support for granted, and I look forward to
meeting with you and learning how, together, we can make sure every student in
Seattle Public Schools is known, challenged and cared for.