|Stay urgent is the OKCPS Foundation’s theme for 2024. As we enter the last few days of January, it’s a reminder how quickly time passes. There are just eleven months left in the year and there is a lot to do.
There has always been a reason to feel urgency around public education, but maybe never so much as right now. But, there is need for consistent, healthy urgency. As John Kotter said, “A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.” Creating chaos through divisiveness and negativity is not the way to grow urgency, and in fact does quite the opposite. The only way to succeed is through consistent, focused effort and following a well thought out and strategic plan.
This is easier said than done, as many in the corporate world can attest. Plans are made with the best of intentions and outside forces sometimes cause distractions, or well laid plans may just sit on a shelf collecting dust. What is required is intentional commitment to the work, focus on the plan and maintaining a sense of urgency.
Part of the Foundation’s focus is to build advocacy for Oklahoma City Public Schools and that includes sharing the story of our district’s work. Oklahoma City Public Schools has a clear and urgent plan that is already making a difference for students and staff members. Focused on learning, people, systems and climate, the plan is broken into foundational pillars including academic growth and achievement, post-secondary opportunities, exceptional student experiences, staff stability and growth, family and community engagement and social emotional wellness. These pieces all fit into focus areas and campus goals.
The plan has SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. More than anything, it is focused on our kids. It is focused on all of our kids, no matter where they live, what language they speak at home, if they need food or clothing assistance or some form of mental health support. The plan provides support for our gifted and talented students and our students with special needs. It is broad enough to cover all students but narrow enough to focus on the areas that need the most attention and it provides special supports for lifting reading and math proficiency as well as college and career readiness.
There are nearly 34,000 students in OKCPS who depend on this plan’s success. Progress is happening. The community also has an important role to play by providing support whenever possible. Engaging with schools through volunteering, providing resources or both is the best way to understand what is really happening in our schools. All it takes is outreach to the OKCPS Foundation at okckids.com.
There are nearly 34,000 reminders in OKCPS and many thousands more who attend public schools throughout Oklahoma that urgency, not chaos, is needed. Working together with our school leaders, we can make the future bright for our kids and our community.
–Mary Mélon-Tully, President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation