Friday Focus – 01-10-2020

Dear Team,

New. Year. Think about it, we can all do something about the “new” but nothing about the “year!” For each of us, it’s 2020. So what’s new with you? A resolution? A word? A relationship? A friend? My hope is that each has experienced a renewed start! And, if you haven’t yet, I challenge you to do so by the end of this month. Grabbing hold of those who lift your spirit is a chance for an amazing renewal. So is releasing, or letting go of those who may be keeping you from your best self. One is easier than the other, however, both might be necessary. A new year affords us the luxury of now, rather than someday (remember that Someday is not a day of the week.)

The new year has always been a special time for me. As a January baby (today’s my 55th birthday!) this first month of the year gives me a particularly heightened sense of a fresh start, a new journey. Not only do we turn the page on 2019, I turn the calendar on another year of my life. I don’t know if it was the opportunity to rest, see loved ones, visit my hometown of San Angelo, or the fact that Amy and I will be welcoming our first grandchild (Luna’s due date? Today!), but, for me, 2020 feels full of possibility and I can’t wait to take it on. Waiting, in fact, has actually never been my strong suit. I’m always on the go. I don’t like to waste time. I’m not even good at sitting still. My high energy level and drive for action have served me well in my life, but as I reflected on the word I wanted to choose as my focus for 2020, I realized I may need to slow down to reach my goals. Each year at this time, I share with all of you my “one word” for the year. The “one word” movement encourages us to select a word as a theme for the year, instead of setting a new year’s resolution which is often about breaking a bad habit or changing a single behavior. Selecting a word to govern us day-to-day provides more of a focus on character and can permeate every action we take.

This year, my word is “stretch.” It first came to mind in the most literal sense. I work out every morning. My time at the gym, early before the sun is up, is good for my body, mind and soul. I gather my thoughts for the day as I exercise and enjoy the opportunity to do something just for me before the demands of the day begin. But one thing I don’t do is stretch. Not before. Not after. As a former athlete and coach, I know as well as anyone that stretching helps warm your body up for exercise and prevents injuries. And stretching after exercise helps you improve your flexibility long term and lower your heart rate as your body cools down from activity. But because of my impatient nature, I HATE to stop and stretch. I want to dive right in and get to the “good” part, get it done and get out! But, as my wife likes to remind me and as my birthday indicates, I’m not getting any younger. If I want to stay healthy and injury-free, able to get on the floor and play with my new granddaughter, stretching is important.

But it’s not only our muscles and ligaments we should be stretching. What about our minds? Our experiences? Literally, the word stretch means to “be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking.” As I work this year to stretch my body, I also want to find ways to expand my mind. How? By feeding it a steady diet of great literature, interesting nonfiction, and time for meditation. By seeking new adventures and discovering new places. I also want to stretch my capacity for helping others. For walking a mile in their shoes. For getting out of my comfort zone. There’s an old quote that is often repeated among old-school journalists:

“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

In other words, those happy with the status quo because it benefits them won’t do anything to effect change unless they are made uncomfortable by opening their eyes to the reality of others. I want to stretch beyond my comfort. Stretching hurts! But eventually, it feels good. And it is good for us.

So help me stretch this year! Share your stories of inspiration, suggest a book to read or a place to visit. Most importantly, I hope you’ll share your word for the year and tell me how you chose it. You can always email me or reach out on Twitter @sfloresRRISD.

Before I sign off, I want to remind all of you that our annual Climate Survey launched this week. This survey is an important part of continuous improvement in our District. Your participation not only gives you the opportunity to champion the needs of your students and the community, it also helps identify what is working well on your campus or in your department and spotlight areas of growth and improvement. It helps to stretch our amazing District to better meet our students’ needs.

So look for the email you received on Monday, January 6, to take the 2020 District Staff Climate Survey. The link in the email is unique to you so I can’t share it here.

Share your thoughts and help us stretch this year. Together we can achieve more than we ever thought possible. May this (re)NEW YEAR, this new decade, lead to the best YOU ever!

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

Thanks for reading. I’ll write again soon.


Steve Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools