Superintendent's Report: Schools grow, change with community
Can you believe that the first quarter of the 2017-18 school year is nearly behind us? Our amazing Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) students and staff will complete their 45th school day on Friday. It has been a fabulous start to the year.
While my job has many focuses, what we hold as most important (beside student safety) is the assurance of successful instruction. While juggling many duties, we always find time to put the discussion around the continuous improvement of instruction at the top of the list. Instruction, in my mind, is also one of the most intriguing parts of being an educator. We passionately seek the elusive silver bullet of the best way to teach. So far, in my 20-plus years, no one has found that silver bullet. That is because the target is moving, the world is changing and our students are changing. They are more amazing than ever, and doing things that we never dreamed of at their age.
While instruction is king in PUSD, I have dabbled in a new industry over the past two years: Real Estate. Kudos to our amazing real estate community in Prescott. Your work is amazing, somewhat frustrating, sometimes downright scary, but certainly interesting and essential. I must offer a big thanks to those of you who have represented and supported PUSD as we have ventured to sell three buildings recently.
On Sept. 22, PUSD closed sale of Miller Valley School. It was an escrow of over six months, and you all know how these things go. After many ups and downs, I felt so relieved that we had finally wrapped up this process and delivered the will of the taxpayers. That night, I woke up and felt the other side of this bittersweet event. Images of students, legendary teachers and principals were before me. Amazing and wonderful things happened at that school. Many of us in the Prescott community have fond memories of those impressionable years and the educators that helped to mold this community.
Last winter, PUSD sold Dexter Elementary school, which had closed in 1996. Our current district office is in escrow with a hopeful close around the new year. Washington School never truly closed. Our amazing Discovery Gardens Preschool took over upon the closure of the elementary. Today, Oct. 2, work begins on the top floor of Washington to renovate space for our district office staff, in order create the space to sell the current district office.
These many changes mirror the change in our community, and the decisions were arrived at with much community input. We held forums, elections and open doors, soliciting the feeling of our community. As community leaders, we must lead the will of the community. I believe that we are finishing up with what our community asked us to do in right-sizing our schools. Public schools are community schools, and there is no better place to have community support and involvement than Prescott, Arizona.
As we move forward, I am excited to watch and learn as our community continues to change. Prescott Schools have been a centerpiece for nearly 150 years. I wonder what the next 10 will bring.
Joe Howard is superintendent of Prescott Unified School District.