Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2018

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Where I Stand:

Superintendent aims to make CCSD #1forkids

Click to enlarge photo

Jesus. F. Jara

As he does every August, Brian Greenspun is taking some time off and is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Today’s guest columnist is Jesus Jara, who was appointed as superintendent of the Clark County School District on May 3; he started working here on June 18.

The first day of school on Monday falls just short of my two-month anniversary on the job as the superintendent of the Clark County School District. So far, this job has been humbling and thrilling, and I am honored to work with our team and local community to make CCSD the No. 1 choice for students.

Having served in public education for more than two decades, I am pouring my heart and soul into this job for the benefit of all students, staff and our community. Education changed my life and ignited my passion to help young people — many of whom are growing up in similar circumstances to my upbringing. I was a young immigrant child from Venezuela and didn’t speak a word of English when I moved here at the age of 10.

As I made my way through American public schools, I received excellent guidance from teachers, principals and others who cared about the education of each and every child. Eventually I became a bilingual teacher, a principal and then on to other leadership positions in public education.

What do I mean when I say that we can make CCSD No. 1 for kids? We need to reach every child in their unique way. Take my children as an example: One excels at mathematics; one is great at sports;, and the other didn’t find his passion for education until he was a junior in high school and discovered a welding class.

I strongly believe that every child, no matter who they are or where they came from, deserves the opportunity to discover what excites them in school. All students should have a path to rich and rigorous learning that works for them. We can identify what lights a fire for every child in our district.

I am currently on a listening tour with a variety of stakeholders who know our community best, having conversations with CCSD educators, staff, families, business leaders and other community members. My plan is to complete 100 meetings with community stakeholders plus another 100 visits to CCSD schools and departments before October. The talent and passion demonstrated by our team and throughout our community has reinforced my optimism and further fueled my determination.

We have tough issues to tackle. I realize we currently have a morale problem in our district. We also need to get our fiscal house in order. I will strongly advocate for more resources for our students and our employees. Let’s provide adequate funding for our children and our schools, and hold me 100 percent accountable for student results.

The good news is we have the right people to make the progress that is necessary for us to be one team, with one goal, to make CCSD #1forkids.

In the coming months — reinforced by the input I am receiving from our community — I will work closely with the School Board to update the district’s strategic plan. While we do that work, I have asked my leadership team to focus on three areas: equity for every student; direct support to schools, including teachers, support staff and school administrators; and transparency with our community.

To achieve our goals, it’s going to take the entire community supporting our district. If all the adults in our community work together for our 322,000 students, we can accomplish great things. In fact, we can become the model urban school district in the United States.

Ultimately, everything we do is for the benefit of our students, and I welcome comments and suggestions from our community. I hope you will join with me in conversations about public education on social media using #1forkids.

Our students are counting on us.