By DR. CURTIS FINCH
Deer Valley Unified School District Superintendent
Now that the school year is finished, there are many people to thank who helped make the Deer Valley Unified School District “home learning” so successful.
There is no crystal ball to tell us if the next school year will start normal, entirely virtual or as a hybrid. If the COVID-19 numbers continue to improve, testing increases and the economy goes back to normal, there is a possibility DVUSD will open school in August as planned. We do not know where the winding path is leading next, but rest assured we are prepared.
There are three groups to be thankful for the wildly successful transition from brick-and-mortar to fully online—the DVUSD community pre-COVID, the current DVUSD staff and community, and the future learners.
After talking to many superintendents and leaders throughout the state, DVUSD was one of the most successful districts in bringing services to our community. From lunches to learning, DVUSD teams properly followed CDC guidelines and performed excellent services and quality virtual instruction.
There are several reasons why past decisions supported our path of success. First, a decade-long commitment to technology integration began with the community supporting our bonds and overrides. Because of this commitment, DVUSD had the right number of servers, routers and connectivity points for staff and students.
Second, solid student management and instructional systems in place turned out to be priceless. Teachers and district staff before—and directly following—the closure participated in hundreds of hours of training, leading to exceptional instruction in a tough environment.
Third, the commitment to providing a one-to-one computer secondary learning environment allowed more than 10,000 computers to be in the hands of students before COVID-19 and another 4,000 easily disseminated after the closure.
Lastly, the culture, organization, structure and commitment to personal learning communities were instrumental in binding the DVUSD staff together socially and emotionally. This three-month adventure reminded us that human connectivity is just as important as learning, and the very reason public schools even exist.
The DVUSD staff responded beautifully to the crisis as it unfolded each day on national news. The district office designed the learning structure and rolled out a simple, but calculated, learning plan for effective instruction and connectivity. The governing board, administration and staff executed the plan with extreme grace, patience and creativity. Parents, students and the community worked with each DVUSD staff member to meet the needs of every student.
Payroll, meal distribution, printing services, human resources, support staff and multiple virtual committees continued to adjust to each turn in the path.
Because we do not know exactly where this path leads, it will be imperative to continue to rely on each other. Collaboration helped us be successful before—and during—COVID-19, so let us keep on this path for starting the next school year. The governor, legislators, community leaders and DVUSD staff working together will be the only way to proceed for the betterment of students. As John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
Dr. Curtis Finch is the superintendent of Deer Valley Unified School District and can be reached at email@example.com