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Working on the Culture at Seguin ISD
Dr. Matthew Gutierrez is a man with a plan—a three-year strategic plan, to be exact. He’s beginning his second year as superintendent of Seguin Independent School District (ISD)—his 17th as an educator—but he views 2018-2019 as the year when the work of revitalizing truly begins.
Superintendent Gutierrez spent most of his first year collaborating closely with his seven-member School Board and with the community at large. He spent a good part of 2014-2015 as interim superintendent of another district facing challenges not unlike Seguin ISD so he didn’t lack for ideas when he started here on Aug. 1, 2017. But he knew not to try implementing changes too extensively or quickly in his first year. His first year, he explained, was about building cohesion and consensus, about formulating and planning…about culture.
Planning Seguin ISD’s Long Term Success
He and the Board spent the bulk of that first year working on what would become the district’s three-year strategic plan. It proved a massive undertaking, with community members and leaders from across the spectrum participating.
The Superintendent welcomed the input—invited it. He wanted to make sure any plans or changes were ethically done, above the line and accomplished with complete transparency.
Seguin ISD, Transparency and Social Media
As part of that openness and transparency, Superintendent Gutierrez put considerable focus into opening new lines of communication through social media. Social media, he explained, is a great way to welcome the community into Seguin classrooms without requiring people to be physically present.
“When I started,” he said, “I noticed that the reality of what was happening in our schools didn’t match a lot of what I heard from people outside the district.”
The Superintendent saw Facebook and Twitter as a means to reconcile perception with reality and has coordinated closely with his administrators and teachers to make maximum use of these tools.
Social media also came in handy as Superintendent Gutierrez and the Board partnered with the community to develop the district’s strategic plan. The months-long process of developing the plan started with multiple public forums and an online survey. This initial phase culminated with a group of 40 community members forming into the Seguin ISD Strategic Planning committee. It included teachers, parents, religious leaders and members of local government. The process of evaluating, compiling, drafting, debating, tweaking, redrafting and approving the plan would require several more months, with the final version receiving approval in the spring of 2018.
Transforming Seguin ISD into a Destination District
“Our strategic plan gives us direction,” Superintendent Gutierrez said. “We know where we’re going now and have a solid foundation for getting there. Our district has made itself as transparent to the community as it’s ever been and we’re proud of that. Now we want to transform Seguin ISD into a place students and families from outside the district want to be part of.”
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