Can you believe this is end of
our second week of school already? I am proud of the remarkable start we’ve had
for the 2015-16 school year.  On July 31, District Convocation served as our
year opener for all staff. It was an amazing experience to have our entire
teamIPS assembled together at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum for
celebrations, reflection and re-visioning. Most importantly, there was an overwhelming
commitment to striving for excellence. Almost every staff member was standing
on their feet dedicating themselves to ensuring that all campuses are clean,
warm and inviting, that students will arrive and depart school safely and on time
daily, that every student will grow academically every year at every school and
that 100% of students will graduate on time, prepared for work, the military or
college.

We have
a team pledge. teamIPS will become synonymous with Excellence!

Special
shout-out to Carrie Cline of WTHR 13, IPS Education Foundation, Indiana Pacers,
Indiana Fever, Indianapolis Indians and Nestle Inn for helping make our day
special! We are very thankful for the unwavering support our community partners
provide to ensure that we devote our very best efforts to students, families
and staff.

Also, I
had the pleasure of responding to questions from staff during convocation in
our “Ask the Superintendent” segment. I didn’t get to every question on the Top
10 list, but as promised, I am providing answers to the remaining questions
now:

Michelle
Whaley, School Social Worker at James A. Garfield School 31, asked, “As the
district incorporates PBIS [Positive Behavior] efforts, what changes would you
like to see based on those efforts? And how will that be measured?”

Michelle,
we must cultivate a culture of positive discipline in our schools so that
discipline is not applied as a consequence. Instead, we are teaching and
coaching young people toward the positive behaviors that we expect from them.
This will be measured by reduced suspensions and expulsions and school climate
data.

Brian
Malloy, Intermediate Emotional Disability Teacher at Lew Wallace School 107,
asked, “With so many people leaving the teaching industry, what is IPS’s vision
for keeping existing teachers? Many thanks for the opportunity to ask!!”

Brian,
we must absolutely address compensation to be more competitive. IPS is becoming
positioned to better serve teachers with more leadership opportunities and
housing assistance. We are also planning and implementing more meaningful and
practical professional learning opportunities.

Mitchell
Cox, Mechanical Maintenance Technician in the Maintenance Department, asked, “Dr.
Ferebee, can you please describe your vision of IPS over the next 10 years?
What significant changes do you foresee?”

Mitchell,
when people think of IPS, they will see excellence…and as I shared during
convocation, excellence is not just in student achievement. We’ve
dramatically improved how people view our service and the culture of our
organization. IPS is one of the largest employers in Indianapolis, and it’s a
GREAT place to work. We will see in the future much stronger employee retention
and increasingly more highly qualified candidates choosing IPS and contributing
to our standard of excellence.

From
convocation, Day 1 to Day 10, there have been many highlights and
opportunities. Transportation was better, but not our best. Community members
and students raved about the start to school this year.  For example, the
NAACP and alumni praised the opening at Arlington Community High School. In one
of my weekly barbershop debates, a 10th grader at Northwest
Community High School made sure I knew his school had the best first week ever
since his 7th grade year (and yes, no fights). I also enjoyed
hanging out with the Shortridge students as they organized items for the food
pantry at the Martin Luther King Community Center for their “O-week”
(orientation week).

I could
go on, but this is just the beginning. I am confident this is the start of what
is to come, Excellence. With the recommitment of staff coupled with our new
strategic plan, IPS will ignite Excellence in our city!

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