Stamford’s Collaborative Spirit . . . A True Gift in Our Community

By Dr. Tamu Lucero, Deputy Superintendent Stamford Public Schools
Tamu Lucero
This article was submitted and printed in the Wednesday, November 21, 2018 edition of The Advocate
 
With the holiday season upon us, what better time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, both personally and collectively as a school district. Since moving to Stamford nearly six years ago, I have come to realize Stamford is an amazing City—for countless reasons—but arguably the main reason for Stamford’s success is its incredible collaborative spirit.
 
We have all just experienced that spirit first hand in the herculean effort of cooperation, teamwork and successful transformation of our Westover Elementary school community back to the business of teaching in two short weeks. Every single person and every organization literally worked around the clock to make it happen. Many put personal plans on hold, sacrificed a good night’s sleep or two, and laid egos aside to empty trash cans or sweep floors, so when our Westover community entered their temporary home they would feel safe, comfortable and productive. That is exactly what happened. I cannot offer enough thanks to the countless organizations, agencies and individuals who made it happen.
 
Some might argue that emergencies often bring out the best in people and that is what we witnessed. Instead, I believe it is only in times of emergency when our ‘best’ is recognized. In Stamford, we work together every day, and it simply goes unnoticed because that is what we do.  We have been coming together as a city for the good of our students for years, long before the closing of Westover.
 
As a school district, we recognize we cannot do it alone; we need the support and guidance of many in our community. Consider that for past three years, Stamford Public Schools has partnered with community-based organizations, city and state officials, and business leaders to create a collective impact effort—Stamford Cradle to Career (C2C), under the leadership of the United Way of Western Connecticut. The overarching goal of Stamford C2C is to collectively align community resources to ensure that all youth succeed in education, career and life.  We recognize that successful children lead to a vibrant and thriving community.
 
As a committed collaborative representing more than 60 area community organizations, businesses, government agencies and education partners, C2C is focused on infant health, Kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, transition to middle and high school, and college and career success.  Our goal is to provide a quality educational experience with a continuum of support toward core outcome measures, developed and implemented by the C2C Community Action Networks.  In addition, C2C has formed a Community Task Force to tackle overarching opportunities that will benefit all learners from infancy to adulthood, for example improving absenteeism, food security, and equity—all with a long-term positive effect on our community.
 
Furthermore, Stamford Public Schools values and relies on the experience and intelligence of our school community—students, parents, teachers, support staff and administrators—to whom we reached out for support in developing our comprehensive strategic plan.   In addition, over 150 community members lent their voices to provide feedback and guidance throughout the process.  In the end, we identified four goals for the Stamford Public Schools District Strategic Improvement plan focused on operating as a learning organization, as well as cultivating the habits of the mind, body and heart.
 
The collective impact model works because the Stamford community committed as cooperative partners, setting high standards and creating a shared effort to proceed toward our common goals.
 
I believe true success is when the community is willing to come together and not just dream of a better tomorrow for all children, but develops a specific plan to work as a collective team to make continuous progress toward achieving our core objectives.
 
Therefore, on behalf of the entire Stamford Public School District, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the community’s support and work toward achieving our vision and mission.  We know with this concentrated effort we will continue to challenge, inspire and prepare our students through their stages in life.
 
They say it takes a village to raise a child and, in our case, I am thankful that Stamford is truly such a village.