A Tale of Two Districts | engage2learn

Leaders that have the courage to engage their community in Designing Transformation are not the norm. These leaders want to make the TASA New Vision a reality for their students, they value collaborating with their parents, students, and community to make decisions, and they understand that becoming complacent means going backward so they have to continually push forward to ensure their students are future ready.

Dr. Brian Gottardy and Dr. Brian Woods are two such leaders. Both superintendents in large San Antonio area districts participated in the Transformational Leaders Collaborative hosted by Region 20 ESC that I facilitated in 2012-13. During the sessions, they both had an idea about how to use the tools shared in their districts to increase community engagement in their planning processes. Early in 2012, Dr. Woods partnered with Engage to design a process that engaged over 5,000 community members in the district planning process. Superintendent Woods was pleased with the results,

“It was our great pleasure to work w/ Shannon in our transformation process. Using the protocols Shannon developed, we were able to gather meaningful feedback from a very large group of community stakeholders. Our final product is something that our staff, our Board and our entire community can be proud of.”

In Fall of 2013, Melody, Nena, and I facilitated North East ISD in the process of Transforming the Future. Dr. Brian Gottardy and his team were able to collaborate with over 5,000 community members in 7 education summits, multiple focus groups, online surveys, a 40-member Design Team, and 8 action teams. The process resulted in shared beliefs, a call to action, learner profile, learner outcomes, goals, and action steps. School board president Susan Galindo, commented about the process, “NEISD’s Transforming the Future process has taken community engagement to a whole new level! Transformation is happening because our community’s hopes and dreams are interwoven into the fabric of our future.” Says Dr. Gottardy,

“A strategic design plan is usually created by a small group of people – however, this process is a true collaboration of stakeholders that gets everyone involved. The Transformation process of bringing our community, parents, students, teachers and employees together has already proven to be an invaluable endeavor and we are all looking forward to seeing the results.”

That’s what I get so excited about each time we partner with a district in this process, and it proved true again in both North East and Northside: even within the confines of federal and state mandates, these leaders are proactively engaging their communities in determining locally with their communities what they value and how they want to move forward together. For example, Dr. Gottardy and Dr. Woods each served as one member of a team that made decisions by agreement. These decisions are actionable and appropriate because they were determined in concert with the community. I believe this is the essence of public education at its best.

Contact Information

District Contact Email
North East ISD Brian G. Gottardy, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools bgotta@neisd.net
North East ISD Dr. Brian Woods, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools brian.woods@nisd.net
engage2learn Shannon Buerk shannon@engage2learn.org