The following is an open letter from Town Councilman Kevin Reid to Acting Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza.
I am writing to you while wearing a number of hats: as a citizen of Monroe, as a father of one of our many students in our schools, and as one of your Town Council officials. I am normally a believer of action not words, written or spoken.
In this case I felt compelled to ensure my sentiments are communicated and memorialized. You and your staff have done an absolutely fantastic job in providing our students with a rich, well-thought out and robust “Remote Learning” curriculum in the first day.
Nothing is ever perfect, but the first day could have been riddled with “gotchas” and major shortfalls, and it was not. Despite being faced with what I could only assume were unknowns, and difficult to manage risks and roadblocks, I want to personally thank you and your team for the time it took to create and deliver this. I am in the technology sector, and believe me, it is not easy to provide a solid and meaningful remote way of working.
In a time where you were thrust into a difficult budget, stepping up to an abrupt “taking of the helm” of the superintendent position, ensuring the right optics were negotiated on a number of contracts you inherited, and finally having to deal with the uncertainties and unprecedented times, we are in now due to Social Distancing and all its knock-on effects. You have proven you are a multi-faceted leader in a crisis and beyond.
We are truly lucky to have you now and throughout this journey back to normalcy. As a side story, I asked my daughter after the first day of her new norm if she had any improvements, lessons learned, and/or constructive criticisms. She responded with, “I wish I could just see people, but we are getting on with it and all my friends seem to like it.”
To go from an unproven and maybe not-so-formulated process/strategy a few weeks ago to what yesterday’s experience reflected is truly exceptional.
What I observed starting around 9 o’clock on Monday morning was our children and teachers joining an online environment, getting attendance, adhering to a clear curriculum and schedule, obtaining clear assignments, executing those assignments and then turning them in.
As the days go by, the little tweaks and turns will inevitably be negotiated and mastered, and it will become a smoother process for all I am sure.
An especially shining moment was when I observed my daughter and her classmates picking up the phone and collaborating a bit, making sure they understand the assignment and helping each other. Basically, they were taking it seriously and acknowledging this was important to achieve the curriculum’s intent.
Joe, we are applauding you for a great start. Keep up the good work. From the dedicated staff of teachers, to the IT personnel, to the administration, and to so many others working diligently behind and in front of the curtain, these teams you have built around you are strong and highly capable.
If the first day is any indication of the remainder of this journey, I tip my hat to you and the Monroe school community. I know there will be some hiccups and things to improve on the journey, and we have faith you will continue to learn and apply. It can only get better and the first day was pretty darn good.
If for any reason at all you need any help, do not hesitate to reach out to me, or any of us in this appreciative town. We are here to support and help, and remember, it takes a village and Monroe is one of the strong ones.
A father, a citizen and a Councilman