Embracing Community-Based Accountability: A Superintendent’s Perspective

As an assistant superintendent, my role is not merely to oversee the operations of our school district but to foster a sense of community that is deeply invested in the success of our students. One approach that has proven to be both effective and rewarding in this endeavor is the concept of community-based accountability. We have embraced this idea in our district and each spring we highlight our commitment to it through the Hawkins Academic Showcase Night and a parent publication called “This Is Our School.”

Academic Showcase Event 
Traditionally, our school has relied on open houses to connect with parents and highlight our educational programs. However, we observed this format often confined parents to their children’s classrooms and offered a limited perspective. To bridge this gap, we introduced the Hawkins Academic Showcase Night in our cafeteria and gym. Unlike the traditional open house, where parents primarily focus on their child’s classroom, this showcase night offers a more expansive experience. Here, parents have the unique opportunity to gain a comprehensive view of the entire school district, providing them with a broader understanding of what their child’s educational journey will encompass in the coming years.

One of the primary advantages of hosting the Academic Showcase Night in these larger spaces is that it allows parents to see the full scope of the great things happening in our district. Instead of the traditional open house style in classrooms, we provide a comprehensive view of our students’ achievements in a more relaxed and collaborative atmosphere. It’s a chance for our community to see the lively and ever-changing way we teach and learn.

At the Academic Showcase Night, we feature student work, performances, and projects that represent the diversity of talents and achievements across our district. It’s a chance for parents to see their child’s progress and contributions alongside those of their peers. This event strengthens the sense of pride and connection that parents feel toward our schools and the accomplishments of our students.

In addition to the Academic Showcase Night, we also engage the community through our “This is Our School” brochure. This brochure serves as a comprehensive snapshot of the great things happening in both academics and extracurricular events within our district. It is a testament to our commitment to transparency and accountability, as we share our successes and challenges with the community.

The “This is Our School” brochure is an essential part of our community-based accountability strategy. It provides an accessible and visually appealing overview of our district’s achievements and goals. In the brochure, we highlight academic achievements, extracurricular activities, student accomplishments, and the dedication of our educators. It serves as a testament to our commitment to fostering well-rounded individuals who excel not only in academics but also in personal growth and community involvement.

Community-based accountability means that we are responsible not just to ourselves but to the broader community that entrusts us with their children’s education. It’s about transparency, engagement, and active collaboration. Both the Academic Showcase Night and the “This is Our School” brochure demonstrate our commitment to involving our community in our educational journey.

In conclusion, community-based accountability is not a mere slogan but a foundational principle that guides our district. The Hawkins Academic Showcase Night and the “This is Our School” brochure are just two examples of how we manifest this commitment. By bringing parents and the community into our schools, we foster a sense of shared responsibility for the success of our students. It’s a true partnership that goes beyond the confines of the classroom, making our district a vibrant and engaged community of learners.

Longtime TEPSAN Stephanie McConnell is an 18-year school principal and Assistant Superintendent in East Texas. She is an educational consultant and the face behind the website Principal Principles. She co-authored “Morale Magic” which is a book filled with ideas to boost your school’s morale. “WIN Time: Fearlessly Transforming Your School” was released in 2020 and immediately earned #1 on the Best Seller for Educational Administration list. Stephanie was named 2019 Principal of the Year by the Texas Rural Education Association.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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