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SPPS Achieves: A Focus on Belonging

Superintendent Joe Gothard

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next several months Dr. Gothard will take a closer look at key components of SPPS Achieves, our District’s strategic plan, in hopes of clarifying the role of each of us as co-workers. This week he examines how as individuals we develop and contribute to Positive School and District Culture.

Dear Colleagues,

I feel a great sense of energy coming to work each day. Whether traveling to schools, community meetings, or my office, there is never a shortage of information to process and problems to solve. Like you, there are early mornings and late nights. I know that being part of Team SPPS causes personal sacrifices at times. And I want you to know how much I appreciate your tireless energy to serve our students and our school communities.

One of the most common things I hear, no matter where I travel in SPPS is, “I’m here for the kids.” This mantra or calling is incredibly important, I feel it too. It is equally gratifying and inspirational to connect with you and learn about your commitment to SPPS students. This also helps me feel a sense of purpose and belonging in our large organization.

Do you feel that way in your work? Do you help your coworkers - even those who don’t work side-by-side with you - feel like they belong? One focus of a positive culture is belonging. That means being respectful and treating coworkers as partners, and welcoming new colleagues in the way that you would want to be welcomed. Belonging means being respectful and inclusive when we communicate. And as leaders, it means setting clear expectations for all employees and providing support for accountability and success.

In February 2018, at a Board of Education meeting, I stated the following, “there is a culture of fear” in SPPS. I realized then, that we had significant work to do in creating a positive school and district culture. 

We have started the new school year on a positive note with commitment and energy. Thank you for keeping those efforts alive.

In partnership,

Joe Gothard

Joe Gothard