Perspective – Mark Mow “Welcome Back”
This time of year, we hear the phrase “welcome back” quite a bit. We welcome our staff, our students, our parents, and our community back to our schools for an exciting new year of learning, growth, and friendship.
For me personally, the phrase “welcome back” carries a special meaning. As someone who spent the majority of my life at Elkhart Community Schools, first as a student, then later as a teacher and administrator, I feel honored to be “welcomed back” to Elkhart Community Schools for this interim time. I recognize how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to work with outstanding staff who are dedicated to providing incredible opportunities for students, and I am honored to feel “welcomed back” by so many who have reached out to me.
Coming back to Elkhart Community Schools after six years away provides me with a unique perspective and appreciation for our staff and these incredible opportunities. Thanks to our dedicated staff, we have expanded opportunities for students in ways that are noticeable and measurable since my last time in the superintendent role. We now have fully-endorsed Early College programs with students earning over 14,000 college credits in a year at a cost savings of over $1.6 million for our ECS families. We now have the state’s largest agriculture program and a farm where students can learn about science with hands-on activities. This year, every secondary student will be issued a school iPad, which will open brand new doors for exploring the world and growing their skills. We now have students graduating at a rate that exceeds the state average, thanks to the long-term dedication of so many at our district.
As staff, parents, and community members, we can and should all reflect on these areas with pride. This growth could not have happened without our dedicated staff, the commitment of our parents, and the support of our community.
When I stepped into this role, the question I began to hear most frequently was “what’s going on with ECS?” To help keep our staff and community informed, we will be producing a monthly external community e-newsletter and a monthly internal staff e-newsletter. I am also committed to providing a quarterly update on the progress of the development of Elkhart High School. It is my expectation that when a new permanent superintendent is hired, we’ll continue this level of communication.
In my role as interim superintendent, another area of focus will be instruction. Through attracting and retaining highly qualified, effective staff; ensuring compensation is competitive and support of their work is high; and providing opportunities for professional development and the transformation to a PLC (professional learning community) district, we will undoubtedly see results in improved academic performance.
In addition to keeping the community informed and focusing on instruction, I’m also committed to assisting the Board of School Trustees in the implementation of the strategic plan through assessing the progress and taking steps to continue moving forward.
Another goal during my time with the district is to continue the growth of partnerships in the community. We have a great number of non-profit organizations, businesses, and colleges who work with us to ensure our students have opportunities to become career/college-ready and life-ready. I want to ensure we continue to foster these relationships and opportunities, and find even more.
My last area of focus will be reviewing ECS’ financial position. I am committed to taking the steps necessary to increase revenue and decrease expenses while focusing as many resources as possible toward classroom instruction.
As the Board of School Trustees begins their search for a new superintendent, with the goal of having a new superintendent in place by January 1, I hope my goals above can help set the stage for our new superintendent. I hope six years down the road, we can look back and measure even more great opportunities we’ve developed for our students.
Lastly, it’s my hope that when a new superintendent is selected, our staff, parents, and community will mirror the enthusiastic “welcome back” with a “welcome to our incredible district.”