Superintendent’s Listen & Learn Entry Plan

Michael A. Poore, Superintendent (effective July 1, 2016)
Little Rock School District

Little Rock Skyline
 

Introduction and Purpose

Picture of Mike PooreLittle Rock is a vibrant and unique city with a long, rich heritage of cultural diversity.  I am excited and humbled to serve as the new superintendent (effective July 1, 2016) of this historic school district. I take this opportunity very seriously and will perform my job with energy, enthusiasm, and commitment.  I will “hit the ground listening and learning” in order to gather as much information from stakeholders within the schools, as well as from parents and community members. I firmly believe that the greatest asset the Little Rock School District (LRSD) has is the passion of its people. This plan is another step forward in returning LRSD to local control.  

    The purpose of this entry plan is to establish a set of activities that will guide my transition into the district and community. The activities described below will utilize an Appreciative Inquiry approach to elicit direction from the community.  In its simplistic form, Appreciative Inquiry seeks to understand key commitments and objectives that must be maintained. Furthermore, it allows the community to share its most important aspirations.

    The following activities will be accomplished as we prepare for the first day our students return in August for the 2016-2017 school year:

Listen to the Community:

  • Meet with key community leaders to establish collaborative relationships. 
  • Establish a “Ten-a-Day” phone communication outreach that will involve contacting ten students, teachers, parents, community, or business leaders every day in an effort to build relationships.
  • Conduct town hall meetings, Twitter town halls, and kitchen table conversations that will allow community members to meet with me in a variety of different formats and share feedback on the progress of the district moving forward.
  • Meet with members of the press to foster a positive relationship and encourage ongoing communication. 
  • Send a letter to every parent in the district to introduce myself and share my vision for the future. This letter will also include a schedule of my community “Walk and Talk” events. I will visit neighborhoods with a door-to-door  “meet and greet.” 
  • Create a formal “Community Call to Action” plan. This plan will lay out a structure that allows patrons to participate in a key initiative that may include such programs as:
    • Community Reading Program
    • Bright Futures Program
    • Graduate Retention Program
    • World Class Career Development Program
    • Design Team for New High School

Listen to School Leaders:

Division Leaders: 

  • Arrange a three-day on-campus conference for all administrators to begin the process of creating direction for the upcoming school year by focusing on the core values that will govern our work as a team to best serve our students and their families. 
  • Meet with division leaders to collectively and individually receive reports on the “State of the Division.”  This report will include three-year trend data pertinent to each department, along with an assessment and evaluation of key personnel within each division. Ongoing discussions of strengths and weaknesses in each division will occur as well. 
  • Establish expectations and protocols for how district meetings will be handled. All meetings will have time for celebrations, while also allowing time for concerns. 
  • Create a Proactive Visibility Plan for all senior administrators to be active in school buildings and in the community. 

Principals:

  • Meet with principals collectively by levels then individually to learn more about each school, each principal’s leadership style, building strengths, and what they are seeking for professional growth. 
  • Review all evaluations of current staff to specifically look at their growth plans for the next year. 

Employee Groups: 

  • Meet collectively and individually with all employee group leaders to form a relationship.   We will discuss critical points related to the focus, direction, and collaboration needed to address our challenges and weaknesses moving forward. 
  • Send a letter to all employees in the district that introduces myself and generates an enthusiasm to focus on what needs to be done to propel the district forward. Each employee in this district is an important and valued member of our team, and they each make a difference in the lives of the children they serve. 
  • Participate in new teacher orientation.
  • Start classroom walkthroughs as soon as employees return from summer break.
  • Prepare and deliver a Back-to-School Celebration for all employees.  

Support to Gain Back Local Control:

  • Review all documents pertaining to current and previous Strategic Plans, District Improvement Plans, and Financial Audits to assist in goal development for the upcoming year. In addition, all reports shared to the ADE in 2015-16 will be reviewed.
  • Spend time with Baker Kurrus to understand the financial and organizational plan to help move the Little Rock School District back to local control.
  • Create an “Achieve Team” model to support an improvement plan for the five schools that are in academic distress. This plan will be a collaborative effort between school personnel, parents including curriculum, special service staff, and interventionists. This team will honor current plans that are in place but also generate a new level of support with stated expectations. The Achieve Team will use data to monitor specific targets and share suggested actions on how community resources can be leveraged along with how professional development will be utilized. 
  • After a Community Advisory Board is formed by the ADE, a retreat for the new members will be arranged to deepen relationships among members, create ongoing communication, and provide baseline performance data for the district. 
  • Utilize multiple communication platforms in an effort to publicly share reports, findings, accomplishments, and setbacks with the community. This “fireside chat” approach will allow us to be candid about where we are in our efforts to gain back local control.