New Superintendent Gary Woods is determined to follow his self-described "listening tour" by conducting 100 interviews with our school district's stakeholders in the next 90 days.
I met Woods last week to interview him about his plans for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. But before I could ask any questions, he had a few for me.
“What are you unhappy about in our district?” he asked, knowing that I am the parent of two Horace Mann students. “What should be the first actions I take to improve the way things run?”
Woods, who started his job , is about halfway through his goal of questioning 100 people. He has met with leaders of the five schools' Parent-Teacher Associations, the Beverly Hills Education Foundation, the BHUSD office team and some elected officials, and more meetings with community leaders take place each week.
At the end of this 90-day process, Woods plans to deliver a “vision and action plan” to the Board of Education for approval, he said at a recent school board meeting. The final plan will include specific goals and objectives to help make students more successful, and the district better as a whole.
The people he interviews have differing views, but common themes are starting to emerge, Woods said. He has conducted similar listening tours in previous superintendent jobs and found it to be a successful way of quickly determining the community's top concerns.
“The residents can be critical, but you need a majority that will support a good foundation,” he said, adding that districts with a solid foundation “relish the positives and work together to demonstrate the value of an outstanding public school system.”
Having come to the BHUSD from the San Marino Unified School District, which has the highest test scores in California, Woods' ideas and leadership have worked in the past.
I look forward to seeing how he plans to improve the BHUSD. The board’s unanimous decision to hire him from the state's top district is a good start to building a strong foundation for our school system.