Thoughtful educators never stop learning. Sometimes our classes change. I’m teaching and learning from principals, teachers and parents now instead of kids, though I like to spend as much time in schools as I can. I’m a new superintendent in rural Massachusetts having spent most of my career in New York City. Culture and context are very important and essentially I had none. My challenge is how to get past that steep learning curve. I took 60 days to interview more than 200 people: students, parents, colleagues, elected officials, school committee members, police chiefs, custodians, college professors, the press, clergy, grandparents, business people and everyone I could find. What comes out of really listening in those conversations continues to be remarkable. Sure we share great ideas about how to make our schools better, more effective and more engaging. We talk about the richness of arts, music athletics and doing hands on work outside in the environment and in our communities. As importantly, we are building and rebuilding relationships that create real excitement about a sense of possibility. Faced with budget cuts and other challenges, we have our conversations to go back to. Our next steps exist in the context of our dialogue. That dialogue is starting to permeate our goal setting, our decision making, how we interact with each other and with kids. What’s exciting, in a context of so many things that can be distracting or derailing, is that we continue to have focused conversations. Thanks for listening ‘ it’s making all the difference here in the Berkshires.

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