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Devon LaRosaDear Lancer students, families, faculty, staff, and community members:

I hope this letter finds each of you well and easing into summer. We had a strong end to our school year at La Follette and I was grateful to have this time to learn about the school, our students, families, teachers, staff, and the community before taking the lead from Principal Storch. I want to publicly thank Principal Storch for spending time with me to ensure a smooth transition. Learning with him and Dr. Sorensen has ensured that I am ready to take the lead and keep La Follette moving in the right direction. I shared with you a month ago that I was looking forward to meeting each of you and learning more about you, your culture and your community. I am motivated and encouraged from my work so far at LHS, and I’d like to provide an update.

It’s been a busy and exciting month since the Lancer Community has heard directly from me. For those of you that I have had the pleasure of meeting, I hope your first impression illustrates what others have said about me being focused on students. I’ve been fortunate to meet with several student groups, from BSU, GSA, yearbook, pathway Health Science students and the student advisory to the superintendent. I’ve also visited more than a dozen classrooms, from English to German, Woods, physical education, algebra support and several special education classes. I have also met with several departments, teacher focus groups, community groups and proud La Follette alumni from all over the country. Some of these meetings were informal lunch meetings, and I’m looking forward to meeting more of you in the coming months.

So far, a few things are very clear. Teachers and students alike are looking for leadership continuity. They want the community to see La Follette grow, improve, and innovate. They want to see us address the inequities that exist in our school with a focus on students of color. They want to see us listening to student voice and allowing our students to lead the change in partnership with us. They acknowledge that instruction has to continue to improve in order to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our learners and allows them to engage in experiential learning that prepares them for college, career, and community. It’s clear that La Follette High School students, parents, families, and community are proud of their school.

So, in order to continue to plan for the opening of the 19-20 school year and beyond, I will be working over the summer on the following items:

  • Learning from students how we can ensure they have a meaningful voice and a seat at the leadership table to continue moving the school forward to truly begin to address equity, anti-racism, and close achievement gaps
  • Engaging with parents and community members to further develop a partnership between the school and its stakeholders through focus groups throughout the summer to reimagine a true and authentic La Follette community
  • Providing opportunities to engage with faculty and staff leadership to determine immediate and future needs including looking for ways to establish and enhance clear and open lines of communication to further foster positive relationships and create trust amongst professionals
  • Offering multiple opportunities for professional learning for teachers and staff on a variety of topics in order to prepare for the next school year’s instructional shifts around our Freshman Academy, launching of the ITC Pathway, the 7 period day, and our focus on teacher teams during common planning time
  • Collaborating with my Leadership Team to develop strong relationships and a shared vision built upon trust and open communication to ensure that we are calibrated on the very best ways to improve our services and outcomes for the students and families of the La Follette community

I am so looking forward to the coming months to meet more of you and to continue learning, growing and supporting students together. I will be communicating with you again, later in the summer with both my entry plan and concrete action steps as we lean into the 2019-2020 school year.

Respectfully and Educationally,

Devon LaRosa