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Message from our Superintendent

Meeting Expectations & Two Queens

Dear ASFM community,

The Culture Code


I’ve started every one of my student assemblies and parent meetings by repeating our mantra for this year, “take responsibility, meet expectations, go beyond.” Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code, says that in order to really change the culture of an organization then you have to be a “communication athlete” which, of course, demands that you repeat yourself a lot. This morning, Thursday, September 9, I fist bumped almost every student as they entered MSHS. “Take responsibility,” this year is about attendance. By 8:30am Thursday morning every student was in the building. Well done! I know the transition back to school is hard, but we can do hard things.

The stories of two queens this week demonstrate how doing hard things starts with everyday effort.

Last weekend, the queen of tennis, Serena Williams, retired from competing. What an incredible athlete. She won 23 Grand Slam titles and by most any measure is among the greatest athletes of all time. She certainly knows something about meeting and exceeding expectations. Queen Elizabeth died after having reigned for 70 years, bringing a sense of commitment to duty and unparalleled belief and devotion to the commonwealth of England. She exceeded expectations.

I’ve collected a few quotes from Serena where she makes it clear what she knows leads to exceeding expectations:

Two Qeens

"Don't let anyone work harder than you do."

"I don't like to lose at anything - yet, I've grown most not from victories, but from setbacks. If winning is God's reward, then losing is how God teaches us."

"I wouldn't be Serena, if it weren't for Venus. So, thank you, Venus. She is the only reason Serena ever existed."

There’s no question that Serena was driven to exceed expectations, and she did. I particularly like the last quote because she acknowledges that her successes come from what she learned from others, in this case, her sister, Venus. Together, they exceed expectations.

In school terms, “meeting expectations” is about grades. Grading will feel different this year. Through our schoolwide curriculum redesign project, we have prioritized essential learning outcomes that all students must meet in order to be successful at the next grade level or next unit of study in any discipline. Each unit is broken into smaller parts that will be assessed using common assessments. Students will be held accountable for all of the small parts learning up to to final summative assessments. This is different from past years.  All assessments matter now.  The small parts (formative assessments) count to meeting expectations. In short, if you’re in class every day and paying attention, you’ll be fine.

Meet expectations

You will be hearing a lot more about “meeting expectations” in terms of the way it has changed our grading practice in our Open House days. Grading has shifted to place more emphasis and accountability on the small bits leading up to the final summative exercises. This in turn raises expectations on the daily efforts of a student. We expect more. I leave you with the words of Jaime Escalante:

“If we expect kids to be losers, they will be losers; if we expect them to be winners, they will be winners. They rise or fall to the level of our expectations of those around them, especially their parents and their teachers”- Jaime Escalante

ASFM community, we honor ourselves, you, and your children by not only expecting more but by insisting on it. Together we rise.

Onward, George

PS The Parent Association is working in collaboration with our three school divisions to create scheduled opportunities for parents to get more involved with school life.