From the Desk of the Superintendent- March 2018

“You have three priorities in your life. Faith, family and then the job! Keep them in the right order as much as possible.” 

That statement is one that I share with all of our new teachers at the beginning of each school year and is one that all of us should hear more often. Wellness is a hot topic in society today and given we have just come through the February blues and some of the worst weather that I can remember, the statement has tremendous merit. Unfortunately in our “busy” society, trying to keep those three priorities first of all IN our lives and secondly in the correct order is difficult to do. And, it just doesn’t happen or remain constant without ongoing attention and intentional work.

We are in the midst of Lent and therefore faith should be front and center in our world, but is it? I think we do a tremendous job at keeping faith in the forefront to our students throughout the school year and especially during seasons like Lent. But what about our own faith. I’m a cradle Catholic and like many of us cradle Catholics, we grew up with a lot of rote memory, a little bit of knowing and very little understanding. This fact hit me again hard at our Learning Leadership Team Professional Development around Inclusive Communities. Often, what I think our faith says about an issue and what our faith truly says about an issue can be quite different. It is a great reminder to me and hopefully to all of us that although faith is a journey, it requires commitment to learn along the way.  If we truly believe that faith is our own first priority (and that of the division) than what are we doing to enhance it? We have some of the strongest innovative practitioners in our buildings because of their desire to learn more, so why not the same fervor for faith development?

Our world is pretty messed up sometimes. People are consistently searching for something out there to “settle themselves” or provide the right balance. For religious people, we’ve always had faith as that “go to.” We’ve always had scripture in front of us and prayer at our side. Yet, too often we allow the busyness of our lives to take away or minimalize our biggest rock- faith. Wellness, personal or professional has to begin with ensuring that faith is our number 1 priority!

Family needs to be our second priority for a couple of reasons. First of all, and this is so evident in my own family is that it provides us with tremendous support. We need the ones we love the most to be around us and that time needs to be intentional! Being present is the key! Just as we need them, our families need us. It sounds almost comical but if you need find time to pray, schedule it and if you need to find time to spend quality time with your family, schedule it too! It would be nice if we already had the right balance all the time so that we didn’t have to schedule faith and family time but if you don’t have enough of it, you need to schedule it until it becomes the norm.  My wife and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage this year, our children are 30 and 25 years old respectively, our little grandson is already over 2 years old and the arrival of his new baby sister is only three months away. Time flies and it is in the blink of an eye. Don’t allow yourself to miss these wonderful family opportunities because of mixed up priorities.

And now focus on the job! Some people in the business world will think I’m crazy for placing work behind faith and family. They’ll likely state that I don’t have high enough expectations for my staff or that I’m a pushover or that the organization will be consumed with lazy employees. Well those who work with me know that I’m pretty driven and have very high expectations beginning with myself. I expect high quality work and continuous improvement from everybody in the organization. While I may be seen as pretty easy to get along with and relational as a whole, I don’t have a problem drawing a line in the sand when required. I’ve also learned that lazy employees are going to be lazy no matter what framework they work in. Quite honestly to those who are lazy in our organization or any other, shame on you! In the end, I know that providing permission to set priorities properly has a more positive effect than negative.

I’m not so ignorant to understand that there are times when our priorities get out-of-order. Sometimes the job we do is overwhelming and all-consuming. But our wellness requires us to hit the reset button every so often to get us back to what is most important. Don’t be afraid to take a step back, breathe and find your bearings so that faith, family and the job are re-ordered porperly! God Bless!


    • Sheri Thomas on March 24, 2018 at 9:29 PM
    • Reply

    In so many ways I feel like I should be chiming in on this very important message that you chose to deliver. I am an example of taking that step back with overwhelming support from our district and finding myself in a new role where lazy doesn’t factor in at all. I dialed back my role so that I could still rise to the challenges of the job before me and hopefully excel, while finding increased time and that ever important presence that you referred to while with my family. Had I been pressured to put my job ahead of my faith/family and remain in a role where I found it difficult to strike that balance, I would have either had one step out the door, or likely developed into a lack luster employee with little future direction. These priorities when properly aligned, promoted and supported by the employer create a much more productive organization.

    1. Yes Sheri, you are a very good example of ensuring priorities are in the correct order and I’m so very proud of your decision. While you will always be missed around the leadership table, you continue to make a difference in our early learning world. When I think win-win, this is definitely a great example!!!

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