DONNA — School district administrators and community members here shared ideas in the district board room earlier this week to improve Donna schools.
The Donna Independent School District strategic design team met to find shared beliefs, address issues and find analysis to provide a framework for the district. The design session took place on Monday and Tuesday, with create and lead sessions planned over the course of the next few weeks.
District administrators valued input from stakeholders from different positions to discuss values, analyze and possible actions. The room of about 40 people split into groups, stakeholders consisting of staff, parents, teachers and school principals were spread across the room, utilizing the group’s diversity by speaking and sharing to one another.
“The end goal is to make our district even better to serve our community and make sure we are the district of tomorrow,” superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said during a speech introducing the session.
The community and leadership coming together is important as the strategic planning will have lasting effects, Steve Waddell said, executive facilitator of engage2learn, an organization that collaborates with public schools to engage education with students.
“This will impact children for years to come,” he said.
“Public schools are the greatest community builder that we have in the United States,” Steve Waddell said after sharing how a public education institution served as place of shelter after a disaster.
Waddell said different roles and perspectives were brought together so each table had a variety of expertise.
Attendees had various motivations and expectations for the session.
Waddell and engage2learn facilitated discussion and activities for attendees involving data and bridged the gap between district employees and the parents and students they serve.
Expectations of a facilitating a “strategic road map” and creating innovations with the motion to “sustain that change” were among the goals of some participants for the workshop.
As the main group broke up into smaller groups, students sat down next to head administrators, exchanging their opinions and taking a more equal role as responsibility was shared between members.
The first activity was to find consistent beliefs among a table members and sharing them to the larger group.
Emphasizing emotional intelligence along with social skills, helping students find their passion and incorporating an inclusive school culture that values everyone involved were all beliefs stated by individuals and groups.
Some participants ended the day with optimistic feelings of the district’s trajectory.
Parent and former teacher Melissa Jones is a Donna native and currently has two children enrolled into the district.
“As a parent you want them to be productive citizens, locally and nationally and globally, and to contribute to society and have a passion for what they are doing for life… I think that everyone there had that goal in mind,” she said.
Board members also took the time to contribute to the meeting, and their role is important to the district, she said.
“I think that the future looks bright for Donna and I’m thrilled,” Jones said.