iChampion is more than iPads, Part II

Courtesy Stephenville ISD

Editor’s Note: Following is the second installment in a series of digital learning commentaries by Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood as the district approaches the first anniversary of its iChampion initiative.

Special to The Flash

STEPHENVILLE (October 12, 2016) — Change can be messy and abrupt. While several organizational theories support radical processes to establish new norms in a swift manner, this typically produces a state of crisis.  Folks, Stephenville ISD is not in a state of crisis. For us, change is an evolution, not a revolution.

Stephenville ISD has experienced an enormous amount of student success for decades.  In fact, people often ask me for “our recipe.” Our “secret sauce” is steeped in values, traditions and expectations.  As we began to plan for the iChampion initiative, we created a framework of core values, District mission, motto and goals on which to build a solid foundation. Identifying and defining these fundamental elements ensured that we retain a laser-focus on successful outcomes for each of our 3700 students.

As I explained to a group of Henderson Junior High students last week, our core values were not identified as a model for citizenship, although that is a nice byproduct. Instead, career readiness and economic opportunity were the true motivators.  Employers are looking for employees that exhibit the very soft skills evidenced in our core values.  Relationships among staff, clients and consumers are the lifeblood of any organization. Decisions and associations with companies are routinely tied to relationships.  With that in mind, integrity is valued at a much higher standard by employers today than it was thirty years ago. Partly due to increased access to operational dynamics through news outlets and social media, consumers and customers are looking to organizations to reflect their personal values and act with integrity.  

Similarly, initiative in the workforce is a value that is magnified in today’s economic environment.  Bringing new solutions, ideas and perspectives to an organization is central to keeping that organization competitive. Demand for cutting-edge products and perspectives in our global market require employees to move beyond mastery, pushing for growth with continuous and flexible learning.

Personalization has become an expected outcome in today’s world.  We expect groceries, health care, technology and a myriad of other products and services to be personalized to our specific needs.  What can we do as a public education entity to personalize the learning environment for our students?  

Our last and most important core value, excellence, is essential to the expectations in the highly competitive world of tomorrow.  We may all complete a task or do a job, but did we take the time to produce an excellent product?  Every day, we see work performed at less than our expectation.  Excellence should be the standard for every staff member and student at SISD.  

In closing, our core values shouldn’t be simply some words on a bracelet or sign; they are central to the economic and civic productivity of our community.  It’s at the heart of an iChampion.



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