November 18, 2019 FOCUS Plan

We’ve been working extremely hard to develop and implement systems to ensure the progress that our students and families deserve. During my first year in the district, I spent a lot of time listening and learning. This year, I am continuing that effort to listen and learn by engaging with stakeholders at a number of levels in a number of settings. From DeSoto Rotary to DeSoto students, I am on the ground at campuses, in classrooms and around the community.

Out of that work of listening and learning, we have developed a comprehensive plan to guide our work and effort during the course of the next year. During the summer, district leadership identified priorities in which we could build strategies to shift district dynamics. The key areas of focus are: 

  • Finance
  • Organizational Redesign
  • Campuses and Classrooms
  • Unity 
  • Systems and Sustainability

FOCUS

Our FOCUS Priorities provide direction and vision for our work and ensures that we align our efforts around common goals and outcomes for students and our community. Through our FOCUS priorities, we aim to optimize and improve our fiscal management; improve and enhance student learning experiences and supports; and improve internal and external organizational climate and connections.

Under Finance, last year, we made some tough decisions to yield long-term gains. Since then, we have improved the district’s fiscal management and transparency. Fitch affirmed the district’s A+ underlying rating and removed the district from credit-watch status. In addition, we are preparing to present a Chief Financial Officer candidate for approval to the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees.

With regard to organizational redesign, we desire to identify goals, mission, vision and beliefs for DeSoto ISD. And, together, we will create a comprehensive, multi-year, academic and system-wide plan. The Texas Education Agency afforded us the means to engage in this work by granting the district the Student Success Initiative Community Partnerships Grant which will allow us to work with the City of DeSoto, the City of Glenn Heights, the University of North Texas at Dallas and Methodist Charlton Medical Center to design a plan that will address the full life cycle needs of community residents.

Campuses and classrooms are always at the forefront of everything we do in DeSoto ISD. Our students’ experiences are paramount. Last year, we introduced an academic plan that focused on the following:

  • Culture and Climate
  • High-Quality Instruction
  • Every Child
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Continuous Improvement 

Culture and Climate

We understand that the last year was difficult for our school community and we are working to create a climate and culture that values all voices, insights and areas of expertise within our system no matter the age or title. We want to regain the trust and confidence of everyone who engages with the district both internally and externally.

High-Quality Instruction

Our Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment team works diligently to create systems that standardize our approach to instruction. Currently, they lead our lesson planning design workshop where teachers in common grades and content areas come together to collaboratively plan instruction, set pacing for teaching state-based standards and build instructional capacity through 360-degree coaching and feedback. No matter the grade, campus, content level or teacher, we will ensure that EVERY student in DeSoto ISD has a high-quality experience.

Every Child

Our focus on every child is rooted in our effort to holistically serve our students through mental and emotional health services, educational and life-need resources, and other supports. The district’s Student Support Services team has been redesigned to establish systems for the total care and development of our students, removing barriers to learning and increasing student achievement and other successful outcomes.

Professional Learning Communities & Continuous Improvement 

Through Professional Learning Communities and our priority on continuous improvement, we are placing emphasis on being a system that adopts and models life-long learning. We want to ensure that all employees have job-embedded professional development that is relevant to their work and role in the district and that we have teams of professionals who are passing that learning on to better serve those who need it most--our students.

We want to improve and increase communication, engagement and awareness in as many areas and on as many fronts as possible. Under the FOCUS initiative, we have been making great strides in the area of UNITY. With the development of a number of advisory councils and site visits that have afforded me opportunities to engage with students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members, I am talking to and hearing from so many vital voices to support positive change in DeSoto ISD. 

Through our work in Finance, Organizational Redesign, Campuses and Classrooms, and Unity, we are positioned to build and establish Systems and Sustainability for future growth and success. Under our Systems and Sustainability focus, the foundation is being laid for long-term viability. We are replacing a reactive structure with a coherent management system while implementing policies, procedures and guidelines for our work to create a better DeSoto ISD.

As a school community, we have come through so much and together we will accomplish even more.