Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG

For anyone that has ever heard, Damen Lopez, the co-founder of the No Excuses University Network of Schools speak you know what I mean when I say Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG. Damen always challenges those he speaks to to set a BHAG, something that seems unreachable but that you truly ultimately want to accomplish. Set it and make an action plan to reach it.

I have had the pleasure of being part of the No Excuses University Network of Schools for several years both as a middle school principal and a high school principal. At the core of NEU is the belief that it our responsibility as educators to educate our students in such a way that they leave our schooling system fully prepared to enter college right out of high school if they so choose. It does not state that every child must attend college. It is a mindset that puts into action systems that ensure EVERY child can be educated and that EVERY child will be educated with EQUITY.

Elementary Ed and Secondary Ed have joined forces and are committed to this BHAG:

ALL Fairfield-Suisun Unified students WILL graduate high school and WILL be A-G eligible upon graduation. 

Our three focus areas this year will help support all schools in making this a reality. Think about how your are working to create systems at your school that will develop a Culture of Universal Achievement. Your PBIS site team will be at the core in working to establish and maintain these efforts.  As a unified district we will use RTI to establish and maintain district and site systems that align and support assessment, data management and interventions. Our district wide focus on T4S and specifically Academic Discourse will align and support all of our efforts in the areas of collaboration and standards alignment. 

Don't forget the WHY of what drives our work. We are doing this for EVERY one of our students in our district. We are doing this to engage our students so that they are empowered to be the change agents of the future. We are doing this so that students are excited to go to school. It is a sad moment when  your own child cries at the prospect of having a particular teacher for the new year. Yes, that really happened just two days ago. We CANNOT allow mediocrity. We must not make EXCUSES! Don't let your budget constraints get in your way. Think of ways to maximize the dollars that you have. Don't let negative staff get in your way. Think of ways to tap into everyone's strengths and have them be a part of the process and ensure they understand the WHY. We CANNOT be complacent. If you see something going well then share it and encourage others to see the benefits. If something is going wrong then address it and determine an action plan to make corrections, don't allow it to fester. 

We can use our challenges and struggles to develop our passions and to push us to improve. What I am about to write about is not easy for me at all.  I have a personal demon that has been with me since birth. Even though I am in my forties I have never shared it with anyone outside of my family. But, I feel that it is now the time to Break the Silence. I suffer with a neurological disability. I have and deal with my Tourette's Syndrome on a daily basis. Since a young age I developed ways to cover and compensate for my ticks to HIDE them from the world. I wanted to hide my ticks so that I would appear to be NORMAL. I often have felt that I didn't fit with others that were NORMAL. I always wanted to know for just a moment what it would feel like to not be dealing with this "demon." The reality is that I will never be able to experience that moment and that is okay. I have never used it as an EXCUSE! I have actually channeled the anger that comes from having it and used that to propel me to push myself harder. For those of you that know me well know that I am rarely satisfied and always feel that something can be better or we can do more.....well that is partly where that comes from. 

I commend my parents, siblings, and my husband for being truly understanding. When you are surrounded by people that see you for who you are at the core and not what is outwardly shown then you are empowered. I break the silence today for our students. We have thousands of students that walk onto our campuses daily. Each and every student comes with a story. That story has been written up to that point and has been pivotal in who they are. That story drives their actions and it is our responsibility to hear their story and to support every student to be successful. Our stories continue to be written each and every day. We take our past experiences and then either make excuses and give up or are propelled to push and find new ways of doing things. It is our RESPONSIBILITY to support, encourage, and support our students and our staff so that they never give up.

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!


  1. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I feel extremely inspired by your entire message. The challenge exists and now it is up to US to rise up. We may accomplish a lot individually, but will accomplish much more collectively. GOLD, PREMIER, and LIT. I believe your leadership will take us there, thank you!

  2. The greatest leaders allow themselves to be personally vulnerable so that they can gain access to the hearts of those they seek to lead. This is risky, but it shows the depth of your commitment to the larger vision that you have. Bravo!

  3. Kristen,
    I applaud your bravery in making this public on this forum. It is a reminder that we do not know everything about our children even when we think we do. So many of our kids come to us with so many things they feel uncomfortable with, or that they do not want to share. Your post is an important reminder of this.

    Thank you.