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Viewpoint: Together we are SoWashCo

Keith Jacobus is the District 833 superintendent

At South Washington County Schools, we have a motto — "Together we are SoWashCo". To me, it means that if we all work together towards a common goal, we have a better chance of success than each of us going about it on our own. I truly believe in this sentiment, as I am sure many of our parents and community members do as well. However, in an age of social media, where people are quick to point out our differences, rather than the positive, or believe things that may not be true before verifying them for themselves, it is easy for us to become distracted and divided.

The truth is, we have much more in common than that which divides us. And as a school district, the biggest thing that we and our community have in common is an overwhelming commitment to do our very best on behalf of our students. In South Washington County Schools, we have amazing teachers, students, families and staff that make up our community. Many of the teachers and staff who work in the district are also parents in the district and some have other family members who are employees in the district as well. For as big as our district is, it is amazing how tightly knit our community is with a small "hometown" feel to it. Every day, so many of us wake up and think through how we can make a positive impact on our students' lives. We all want our students to feel supported, loved and cared for and hope that when they graduate from high school, they are a more informed global citizen, ready to take on the world.

The challenge in today's world is that there are sometimes issues that arise that, on the surface, seem to divide us. We recognize that we aren't all going to agree on everything, but we hope that there is an underlying trust and assumption of positive intent between all parties in our community. And we hope, that when any decision is made, our community knows it is done with the best of intentions.

We have our strategic planning review coming up soon and we always appreciate the staff and community perspective so that we can work collaboratively to create a plan that is in the best interest of our students and our system. We want to continually be responsive to staff, community, and student voice as we all work towards continued improvement.

It is said that communities that have a high level of trust in their school district, are actually more successful. They can move curriculum forward and address the achievement gap at higher rates. You entrust your most precious gifts to us each and every day and we have a collective team of people who are working hard to be good partners in preparing our students and helping them be the best they can be.

We already are a successful school district on many levels, but imagine what we could accomplish if we were all working together with an even higher level of trust. Let us make a commitment to be curious, as we try to understand one another. Before we judge, let us turn to wonder, as curiosity leads to understanding. Ask questions and do research when you hear something that doesn't sound right. Let us create a dialogue defined by candor and authenticity — not false narratives or misunderstandings. We could be an example to the world of how a community, working together, can truly make a difference in the lives of our students. I look forward to being a good partner on this journey, as our students are counting on us. Remember, Together we are SoWashCo!