Today at Emerald City Rotary, David Engle, the new Superintendent of the Port Townsend School District spoke about the lessons he has learned during his long and distinguished career as an innovator in education. We all know that schools are even more resistant to change that most people and organizations, but David showed that with the will to make a difference and a bit of disregard for the rules -- all kinds of amazing things can be accomplished.
He cleverly tied the whole thing together with five words that end in "ity".
Necessity: He was given the job of changing a middle school in Nebraska from its last place ranking or else it would be taken over by the state. He leapfrogged the other schools by jumping to a model of 1:1 computing -- where every student got a laptop. Within three years, kids from more affluent neighborhoods were trying to get into this school from the wrong side of the tracks. Last place to first place.
Opportunity: As principal of Ballard High School, he turned the good fortune of a brand new building into a brand new Maritime Academy. Out with the auto shop and in with a curriculum that took advantage of local expertise and that has since become established as a cornerstone of the community.
Impunity: At Squalicum High School he turned an underused library into a library that took advantage of new tools and technology. Changing the attitude of the entire school.
Futurity: Possibly a new word that captures his vision for the Port Townsend school district. A community that will benefit from his energy and experience. Even if it shakes things up a bit!
Capacity: While principal of Interlake High School he partnered with Microsoft to create a world class IT curriculum with cast of computers from a local business. All while building an IB program.
He concluded by pointing out that we know how to create great schools, but we don't know how to make change sustainable, and then he challenged everyone to do something for our local schools. Take risks -- break rules.
Here is David Engle's Biography.