A colleague was telling me they recently attended a wedding where they were instructed to not only silence their electronic devices but to actually put them away so everyone could enjoy the moment and live the experience. In an era of instant communications driven by email, text messages, and social media, for me, this simple announcement brought home the value and importance of face-to-face communications.
Although I’m very active on social media and enjoy using it as one of many tools to help build relationships with our students and communicate with our school community, it is not a replacement for taking the time to sit down and talk with people.
One avenue we like to use in our efforts to hear from our staff, parents, and community members is a program I started a few years back called Chatting with the Superintendent. The meetings are open to all residents, district staff, students, and parents.
I enjoy these informal chats with our community. They provide me with the opportunity to talk about all the great achievements going on in our district such as Lindbergh Elementary being named our third Blue Ribbon School. More importantly, those attending can share their thoughts, questions, and concerns. This open forum gives me a chance to listen and hopefully, between myself or many of the administrative team who also attend, we can provide a well thought out and thorough response to their questions or concerns.
The next Chatting event is just around the corner and will take place on November 25 at Woodworth Middle School. All community members are welcome to stop by at 5:30 p.m. and take part in this very informal conversation held in a relaxing setting. The conversation will be driven by those in attendance and focus on topics related to individual schools or the District as a whole. A complete schedule can be found on our website at dearbornschools.org or page 3 of this newsletter.
One of the most powerful assets from building these personal relationships with our community is the support they show for the district when they use social media. They are not obligated to do this but do it because they are informed, feel that they are part of the process, and feel that they too are contributing to the success of the district.
Our actions on social media have helped us to build bridges with the community, but I have not lost sight of the most important aspect of communication: building personal relationships. That is why my weekly schedule includes dozens of school visits and direct interaction with teachers, principals, parents, and students. We can silence our phones but sometimes it’s best to just put them away and live in the moment.
Look forward to meeting you at our next Chatting event, or in that next selfie on social media!
Glenn Maleyko, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Dearborn Public Schools