After winning unanimous approval for a four-year contract as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Heath Morrison sent an email blast to CMS employees today. Morrison, who currently leads Washoe County Schools in Reno, Nev., starts work in Charlotte on July 1.
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 1:18 PM
Subject: From incoming superintendent Heath Morrison
To hear Dr. Morrison speak, click here.
At its April 24 meeting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted unanimously to name me superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. I am honored by this vote of confidence and I look forward to our partnership as a high-function governance team dedicated to the continuous improvement of CMS.
My journey to CMS is rooted in my own experience as a teacher. I began my career as a teacher and I still consider myself a teacher – just one who is on special assignment. When I visited CMS a couple weeks ago, a lot of people asked me if I am ready to lead CMS. I believe that I am.
For three years, I have been superintendent of the Washoe County School District in Nevada, which has 65,000 students and 102 schools. Our board and I have worked collaboratively with teachers, leaders, staff and a community committed to better schools. We have established a bold vision and a strategic plan to ensure success for all students, we have followed this plan and we have seen our graduation rate increase dramatically and our student achievement rise.
My experiences in Nevada will help me lead CMS. I was drawn to this district because it is one that is already nationally recognized. I have deep professional respect for the leadership of this district, including Hugh Hattabaugh, who has served as interim superintendent and done an outstanding job. I’m also looking forward to working collaboratively with Ann Clark. Their leadership, and the work of so many dedicated employees, has helped make CMS a quality public school district.
Another factor in my decision to join CMS was family. My family and my wife’s family live on the East Coast and relocating will allow us to see our families more. That’s important to us.
The challenge before us now is to make CMS even better – and I believe that we can if we work collaboratively and effectively. What do I plan to do as superintendent? I am developing an entry plan now and I’ll be sharing it soon with all CMS employees and the public. The main goal of that entry plan will be to follow the advice of Stephen R. Covey: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Another way to say that is listen first, talk second – and that’s what I plan to do.
I want to hear your views. How will we define success? What areas can we improve? How can we raise achievement and close the gaps? I want to visit every school in CMS – and I started on that goal during my visit April 24 by going to Walter G. Byers Elementary, J. M. Robinson Middle and Providence High. I spoke with parents and staff on these school visits. I want to hear what principals, teachers, staff and students have to say. I want to hear what the community has to say – not only community leaders but all members of the public, parents and others who care about schools.
Working together, I believe we can continue to improve our schools so that every student can be educated well and have the promise of a better tomorrow. All of us believe in that – it is both a starting point and a goal. There is significant work ahead. I look forward to working with all of you on behalf of our students.