• SLPS: ready to partner with you
    David Hardy  

    Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2014 7:00 am

    By David Hardy Jr.

    The St. Louis community has been the focal point of the world spotlight recently due to the Michael Brown incident. While most of the images being portrayed are not positive, I remain confident that I made the right choice to relocate here to join the St. Louis Public School District. 

    I was attracted to SLPS first and foremost because of Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams. His vision and desire to put kids first is something that is completely in line with my value system. In April, I came to St. Louis to interview for the position. I stayed four days, shadowing Dr. Adams. I saw how he operated inside and outside of schools. I picked his brain. I learned a long time ago that you only love the job as much as you love working for your boss. Dr. Adams was the ultimate inspiration.

    During my visit last spring, I also had the opportunity to see the city. When I got here, SLPS sent me on a tour, and the city was completely different than I had imagined. There are unbelievably beautiful areas and parks, and the people made me – and my wife and son who traveled with me – feel welcome, wanted and inspired. I sat down with Build-A-Bear Founder Maxine Clark, and she articulated the same message I had heard from Dr. Adams: the importance of the work. It was great to see influential members of the community on the same page as the superintendent.

    How can I help make SLPS better? Coming from the outside, I want to understand first before I seek to be understood. Once I have a firm footing and understand why SLPS hasn’t performed as well as we can, then I will create academic goals that align to Dr. Adams’ transformation plan to regain full accreditation for the district, which I view as an intermediate goal for the district with college and career readiness as the ultimate goal.

    I do not plan to make any drastic shifts at the start. I will be monitoring progress and implementing strategy with the knowledge that the transformation plan will always be a working document. I anticipate halfway through the school year, we will debrief and decide what we need to reshape and shift. I wouldn’t be surprised if we revamp some elements, but it’s a great start.

    How can others help? Corporate partners like Wells Fargo Advisors are critical to the district’s academic success. I am still learning about the district’s existing partnerships and how they have worked. Based on past experiences, I would say that if a company is curious, please come to the table with an open heart and an open mind about how big our needs are.

    I know in past cities that I’ve worked in, some partners have come in with an agenda and bee-lined to a certain school. Certain schools got more help than others, or maybe the help provided wasn’t on target for a school’s needs. As challenging as it may be to partner with a school district, I would ask for flexibility and patience.

    That said, we want to listen to you. We’re looking for the best and brightest minds to give us perspective and feedback. What do we need to do better? Give us insight and feedback from your world.

    David Hardy Jr. is the new deputy superintendent of academics for SLPS. He joins SLPS with 12 years of experience in teaching and administration. Most recently, he served as the chief of academic supports for the School District of Philadelphia. Prior to that position, he was the executive director of regional achievement for the New Jersey Department of Education. He was the founding principal of Achievement First East New York Middle School in Brooklyn, NY, and is a Teach for America alum.