Posted on May 09, 2019
Written by David McFadden
Denise Juneau arrived here ten months ago to lead Seattle Public Schools as our new superintendent.  Juneau brings a unique blend of experience, passion and focus to the position.  She is already gaining traction on several initiatives to improve our local schools. 
Juneau believes in big goals and worked with the school board, staff, parents, and students to develop a new strategic plan for Seattle Public Schools.  The plan puts emphasis on equity.  Equalizing student outcomes across the city is a huge issue and schools can make a big difference for kids.
To drive change and improvement, Denise reached out to hundreds of community partners when she arrived.  She expanded the table to include these new stakeholders in the strategic planning process.  To drive equity, Juneau focused the plan on improving outcomes for African American males, the most challenged group of students in terms of school success.
The plan brought a renewed focus on improving outcomes for younger kids especially those in grades K-3.  Denise said we cannot let another generation of kids fail or fall behind. 
She asked for Seattle 4 Rotarians to help.  Kids need help with mentoring.  Schools also need help providing relevant books for students to read over the summer.  Research shows that reading six books over the summer helps students keep their skills sharp. Click here to learn more about how you can help.
Juneau explained that students of color want teachers or color, relevant history lessons, and change.  She formed a student advisory council and they have provided great input so far.  Denise has also formed racial equity teams of teachers, parents, and stakeholders who are working across the district to address bias and institutional racism.
Before lunch, I asked Denise what some of the district’s biggest challenges were and she said that getting kids on buses is a huge daily test as Seattle gets more congested.  Beyond this operational challenge, Juneau said getting everyone to the table is essential.  She said we need to focus on driving equitable outcomes and our public schools need both grassroots and glass tower support to make a difference. 
Juneau already understands that the city wants its public schools to succeed and that is certainly true at Seattle 4 Rotary.  We are deeply vested in Seattle Public Schools’ success and Denise left our meeting with an invitation to join Seattle 4 and a strong sense that she has a partner in our club going forward.
Todd Summerfelt and Trish Bostrom led the club in the song, If I Had a Hammer, and Tom Mesaros inspired us with words about why education is so important.
This week's Totem Report was written by David McFadden. 
Media Sponsors