Superintendent's Corner

Departing Eagle County Schools chief’s farewell

It has been a tremendous run, but this will be my last Vail Daily guest editorial column. Throughout the past four years, I've had the opportunity to communicate directly with you about education, policy, politics and our community schools.

When we started this effort in 2013, it was considered an unorthodox and risky move. It is unusual for a school superintendent to reach out directly to the community through a regular column.

At that time, our schools were still reeling from the 2011 loss at the polls for a mill levy tax increase that would have restored some funding lost in the recession. Also, in my first few months on the job it was made clear that I would need to be very present and engaged with the community as a way of building trust and confidence.

This column gave me a regular forum through which I could inform our community about our schools, respond directly to concerns in the community, share my thoughts on issues that impact our kids and schools and occasionally take to task state and national political leaders when it came to their policy decisions.

But the impact of the column went beyond just our valley. I would regularly get emails about this column and social media shares from other Colorado communities and even nationally. People would contact me from other state capitols, Washington D.C. think-tanks, and people interested in education from across the country. I could never have imagined or predicted the far-reaching impact it would have.

I will be honest, the weekly routine of coming up with an education related weekly topic was at times burdensome. I can recall several late Monday nights or Tuesday mornings staring at the blinky cursor on my screen, waiting for the words to come to me.

But this exercise kept my thinking, writing and communication skills sharp. The discipline of writing this column has made me a more logical thinker, better writer, a more effective professional and a more reflective person.

I also have developed a deep respect and appreciation for journalism professionals who do this kind of work on a daily basis and I'd like to thank the Vail Daily for providing this forum.

The local newspaper has a responsibility to call out public entities when they misbehave. While we've done a good job keeping Eagle County Schools out of those kinds of stories these past four years, we've also been able to keep a professional and honest relationship with our local paper and journalists.

Special thanks to Randy Wyrick, who covers the education beat (along with about 1,000 other things), current and former Vail Daily editors Krista Driscoll, Ed Stoner and Don Rogers. I have deeply appreciated getting to work with you professionally and to get to know you as people.

It is no secret that the profession of journalism is under attack right now and media market forces make the survival of this important civic institution more difficult every day. We are so fortunate to have such a quality local newspaper in the Vail Daily.

I also wish to thank our past and present Eagle County Schools communications chiefs, who have supported me with editing and ideas over these past four years. Former chief Dan Dougherty is to be given credit for the initial ideas of starting this column and helping me get it off the ground. Current Communication Chief Tammy Schiff helped me in focusing the message, tone, and perspective — keeping it authentic and original. Our community has been fortunate to have these two exceptionally talented professionals working on behalf of our schools and helping me build connections with the community.

Finally, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to all of you — the readers. When people came up to me and wanted to talk about one of the articles, I always experienced this mixture of surprise and flattery that someone was paying attention to it. But that was also coupled with a profound sense of accomplishment that my efforts to communicate were working. Thank you for reading, and engaging.

In closing, I want you to know what a tremendous professional honor it has been to be your superintendent. I loved every minute of it. This community has been so good to my family and me and we will miss you.

With love and gratitude, farewell.

Jason E. Glass is the Superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at jason.glass@eagleschools.net.