Friday Focus – 01-24-2020

Dear Team,

I try hard to not count days, preferring to make each day count. Having said that, in eight days, the calendar page will turn from what sometimes feels like one of the longest months of the year. I know many people are ready, even anxious, to move on from January, shake the last vestiges of the holidays off, and maybe even start looking forward to spring.

Here’s a friendly reminder, don’t look so forward to the near future that you don’t fully enjoy today. Eckhart Tolle may have said it best: “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” In addition, don’t entirely leave the spirit of January behind as we move ahead. The beginning of the year is a time for reflection, goal-setting, breaking old habits and cultivating new, healthier ones. As January ends, I’m going to do my best to keep my 2020 focus, keep stretching myself physically, emotionally and intellectually, and give my best every single day for our 51,000 students and 7,000 staff members.

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep that focus and, with everything on our plate, to always know what our next step should be or how to make the best decision in a given situation. When I feel overwhelmed, and not sure the best path to take, there is a voice in my head that whispers: “Do right.”

Maybe it’s from my Dad. A soft-spoken, hardworking man who clung to his honor and protected his family name. Maybe it’s from my Mom, a woman of many words, but who always told me “Let everything you say be the truth.” But wherever that voice comes from, it never steers me wrong.

We are all faced with complicated situations, have competing priorities and an endless line of people we think we need to please. But if we just stop and think about doing the right thing, all of the nonsense fades away and the path becomes clear.

I was traveling this weekend and for the first time in seven years, missed attending Round Rock’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Walk and Celebration. It is one of my favorite events of the year and I was sad not to be there. If anyone led his life with the ultimate guiding principle of doing right, no matter the consequence, it was Dr. King, who once said:

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

So as you go through your day, I hope you listen to your conscience. No matter the role you play in Round Rock ISD, I hope your decisions are guided by what is right for our students. I hope you hold those of us who lead the District accountable for doing the same thing.

As a leadership Team of Eight, I as superintendent and our seven elected Board members, have committed to Lonestar Governance, a model for governing teams who choose to focus primarily on only one primary objective: improving student outcomes.

I love this approach because it should keep us focused on the right things. When we’re mired down in tangential debates, we can ask ourselves: “How is this improving student outcomes?” I’m confident that our Team of Eight will internalize this concept.

That’s a great question for all of us in Round Rock ISD. As long as we are laser-focused on improving student outcomes, expanding their opportunities, ensuring they have all they need to be successful, then we know we’re doing the right thing. May our actions be stronger than our words as we advance 2020!

It may be a simplistic approach, but my advice, when you don’t know what to do? Do right. I leave you this week with one more quote from Dr. King:

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll write again soon.

Respectfully,

Steve Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools