I’ve always said that the Prairie campus is a bit like a small town unto itself. It’s one of the many things I love about CCSD. Like most small towns, people know and care about each other and because of that word can travel quickly. I’m guessing many of you will already know by the time you read this, but I really do value everyone here so I would like everyone to hear the news from me. On Monday, I interviewed with Cedar Rapids Schools for a new position in their system, the executive director of digital literacy. I was offered and accepted the position on Tuesday evening.
This was not an easy decision. As I have already said, I really do love Prairie. When I began my ed tech masters program at UNI in the fall of 1997, my dream job was to become the technology director for College Community Schools. I felt (and still do) that for this particular job title, CCSD was the best in the state of Iowa. It was a vibrant, growing community with a really strong tax base for funding, and most importantly to me — an incredible culture of student at the center progressiveness and innovation made up of an unbelievable group of hard-working, purpose-driven, and talented professionals. In my estimation, the best of all possible worlds. The actual experience of working here has surpassed all of my lofty expectations. It was even better than I had imagined it. I’m not saying working here was always easy or fun all the time, but it was always meaningful — work that really mattered. I can’t speak for other people, but it strikes me as pretty rare when one of your biggest dreams is surpassed in reality.
When I looked at the Cedar Rapids job description and noticed how well it fit my skill set and experiences, it piqued my curiosity. At this point in my career (I plan to work for another ten years or so…), the temptation to take on a big, new set of challenges was just too tantalizing to pass up. I’m honored, humbled, and a bit bewildered that they ended up selecting me. What drove me to accept the Cedar Rapids offer was the passion to climb a new mountain, solve complex problems, and tackle different challenges (and there will be many…). I don’t mean to suggest there’s not important work to do going forward at Prairie. But, in my nineteen years, we’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress. And while I’ve very proud of the role I’ve played, I don’t want to suggest that I’m solely responsible for Prairie’s journey forward. I could not have made any of these contributions without the powerful collaborative relationships from talented principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, and district administrators. I am so thankful and grateful I’ve had the opportunity to work with such a dedicated, caring, and smart group of people.
Of course, the real secret to any success I’ve had here is the insanely good people who make up the CCSD Technology Department. Nothing digital happens in this district without the efforts of this team. They are second to none. Charlie Braun, Chris Ketchum, Sam Ketchum, Mary Corrigan, Bill Paarmann, and Angela Sleeper (the straw that stirs the drink…) are all rockstars in their own right. The great news for Prairie (and for the person who ends up filling the Director role) is that this team is staying intact. I’m not certain of many things in this world, but as long as this team works here, I am certain Prairie will continue to do great things with digital tools and technology.
Again, it’s been an amazing ride for me at Prairie. I feel so blessed and grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know and work with all of the people who make CCSD such a special place. I wish everyone the best! Have a great end of the school year and best of luck in all of your future endeavors! Take care!