• Visioning effort moves forward with Guiding Coalition meetings

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    Guiding Coalition members listen to a panel discussion at the board auditorium in the Blanchard Education Service Center. (Photo by Beth Conyers)

    Portland Public Schools marked a significant milestone in the work to bring a long-term vision to the district earlier this month, with the first meetings of the PPS Guiding Coalition. The meetings, which included about 100 participants and were themed “Let’s Dream Together,” took place Dec. 7 at the Blanchard Education Service Center and all day Dec. 8 at Faubion School.

    Guiding Coalition members were identified and invited to participate by the PPS Board of Education and Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero. Members represented a cross-section of the district community and included students, educators, school leaders, parents, labor partners, community members, business leaders, elected officials and central office staff.

    “When we thought about who would help us with the design work necessary to capture the needs of PPS students, educators and families of the future, we knew we needed a broad steering committee that reflected the district’s rich diversity,” said Jonathan Garcia, PPS Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships and External Affairs. “I think many of us were hopeful about these first meetings, but not quite sure what to expect. The Guiding Coalition exceeded our hopes; their energy and focus were amazing all weekend. It’s heartening to know that so many people are willing to make such a big commitment to affect the future of education in Portland.”

    Work at these meetings included hearing about future trends in education, technology and work from a panel of futurists and exploring the implications of these trends for Portland. The remainder of the participants’ work was interactive and included small and large group exercises. Flipcharts and sticky notes seemed to cover the entirety of Faubion’s gymnasium Saturday afternoon as participants shared their dreams for what will be the most important priorities to serve students and schools of the next generation.

    The meeting was facilitated by Prospect Studio, whose experience supporting education providers finding their own “north stars” includes successful work in California and who have consulted education districts in multiple states.

    While important, the Guiding Coalition’s central role is that of a steering committee; the vast majority of input that will power the PPS Visioning initiative will come from the broader PPS community. Beginning in January, the Visioning Core Team will be working with numerous community-based organizations, our labor partners, and school leaders to hear from our diverse constituency. PPS will also host a community open house later in the month (details soon), and will make available an online tool so that anyone in the PPS community can weigh in on what they want PPS’s future to be. There are also educator- and central office-specific opportunities that will soon be announced.

    So, if you are reading this, know that you will have multiple ways to share your dreams, too. The Core Team (PPS staff tasked with coordinating and facilitating and providing operational and logistical support to the overall visioning process) will share details about these opportunities in the coming days.

    “We are looking forward to going out into the community to hear from anyone and everyone who wants to dream with us,” said Garcia. “Our goal is to make it possible and convenient for everyone to weigh in on the future of PPS, and we are working hard to provide multiple opportunities--in small meetings, at large events and virtually--for our stakeholders to do just that.”

    Click here to find out more about the Guiding Coalition, the PPS Visioning initiative and ways you can participate.