Saugus District welcomes staff with convocation

Steve Ventura, a former educator and administrator, presents a keynote address to the Saugus Union School District at its staff convocation on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Courtesy of Lee Morrell

The Saugus Union School (SUSD) district kicked off its academic year with a Welcome Back Convocation at Real Life Church Monday.

Monday’s convocation was a chance for the district’s more than 500 employees to gather together before the start of school Wednesday.

“Traditionally Saugus has always done a welcome back event… and usually we had a keynote speaker,” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Isa De Armas said.  “It had been about 10 years since we were able to do this.”

This year’s convocation included a keynote address from Steve Ventura, a former educator and administrator with expertise in leadership development, curriculum and instructional design.

His address highlighted “the effective leadership and teacher profiles in becoming a high impact school and district.”

“His keynote was on what collective efficacy is about… and about how we work as a team instead of working alone,” De Armas said.  “He talked about collective intelligence in terms of adults working together.”

Much of his keynote and lessons were based on Professor John Hattie’s research and encouraged the attendees to look at their roles as instructional leaders.

“He was very funny, he was encouraging and he shared the resources that really inspired us for our new year,” De Armas said.

He also shared a video of a student engaged in their learning and discussed the importance of using feedback to promote effective education and create a “student dialogue” with learning.

“There was this beautiful quote that he said that was so inspirational,” De Armas said.  “He said ‘If our presence doesn’t add value then our absence doesn’t make a difference.’  I think that quote really resonated with folks that we need to be present and mindful with our job as teachers… and how we take that to that collective efficacy.”

The convocation also included a welcome back message from Superintendent Joan Lucid, announcement of new teachers and staff, acknowledgement of long-time teachers.

“It was very exciting to have everyone under one roof; we haven’t done that in a long time,” De Armas said.

Overall the teachers and staff felt it was a motivational way to celebrate coming back to school.

“It is important to begin the school year with an inspirational thought and reflection,” said David Powell, president of the Saugus Union School District Governing Board in a statement.  “We look forward to an amazing year, filled with growth and celebrations.”

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