31 MINS

EPISODE 6: Dr. Deena Bishop, Putting Students First with Transparency, Accountability, and Communication

September 04, 2017

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Today, on the Education Leader Podcast, I’m talking with Dr. Deena Bishop, who has been the Anchorage School District Superintendent since July of 2016.  Anchorage is the largest school district in Alaska with over 90 schools and more than 50,000 students.  

Since taking office just last year, Dr. Bishop quickly got to work by leading the charge against a major budget cut.  And today, she is here to share how she is putting students first with transparency, accountability, and communication.

Topics covered:

  • (02:23) – Dr. Bishop’s background and path to becoming Superintendent of Anchorage School District in Alaska.
      • (02:33) – First forays as an educator.
      • (03:34) – Made the move to elementary schools.
      • (04:01) – Finishing her doctorate at the University of Oregon.
      • (04:19) – Dr. Bishop’s tutelage under influential superintendents.
      • (05:01) – The transition as superintendent of Matanuska-Susitna School District to Anchorage.
        • (05:56) – The additional layers of bureaucracy in Anchorage.
  • (06:22) – Dr. Bishop’s role as role as Superintendent in Anchorage.
    • (06:33) – The achievement she is most proud of from her first year.
      • (07:20) – Achieving a high-level of transparency and accountability.
    • (07:59) – The nuts and bolts of Dr. Bishop’s plan to bring more cohesive harmony to the school district.
      • (08:07) – Getting the right people in the right positions.
      • (09:00) – Creating clear and open channels of communication.
    • (09:57) – The biggest challenge she expected to face before assuming her role.
      • (10:12) – Student outcomes.
      • (11:06) – Adapting to 21st century learning trends.
      • (11:26) – Reducing variance within the system.
      • (11:43) – Keeping standards high.
    • (12:00) – The resources and support structures available to Dr. Bishop as she began as Superintendent.
      • (12:35) – Communication with colleagues.
      • (12:35) – Journals and conferences.
      • (12:51) – Council of the Great City Schools.
    • (15:18) – The demographics of Anchorage School District and the challenges of diversity.
    • (16:29) – The challenges Dr. Bishop envisions moving forward in the next coming years.
      • (16:54) – Staying adaptable to state economics.
      • (18:06) – Preparing students for real world situations and experiences.
      • (20:18) – Working with students and teachers in adapting to their changing roles in the classroom due to the information age.
    • (21:13) – The details surrounding the recall on non-tenured teacher layoff notices.
    • (23:55) – Dr. Bishop shares her tips and strategies for best practices in improving and maintaining positive relations between superintendents and school boards.
      • (24:44) – Focusing on student outcomes.
      • (25:16) – Building trust.
      • (25:44) – Transparency.
      • (26:04) – Open channels of communication.
      • (29:38) – Connecting with and working with multiple community elements and remaining solution focused.
    • (30:35) – Advice Dr. Bishop would wish to have had when she first started.

Rapid-fire Questions:

  • (31:40) – What do you spend too much time doing?
  • (31:46) – What do you not spend enough time doing?
  • (31:51) – What do you wish more people knew about your job?
  • (32:26) – What emerging trends in education are you keeping an eye on?

Where to learn more:

To learn more about what Dr. Bishop is accomplishing as Superintendent of Anchorage School District, visit their website http://ASDK12.org/ where you’ll find a variety of her publications, her email and her phone number.

Transcript:

Pat: Today I’m talking with Dr. Deena Bishop, who has been the Anchorage School District Superintendent since July of 2016. Anchorage is the largest school district in Alaska with over 90 students – I’m sorry, over 90 schools, and over 50,000 students.

Since taking office just last year, Dr. Bishop quickly got to work by leading the charge against a major budget cut. And today, she is here to share her story.

Before we get into it, allow me to read a snippet from your message on your website Dr. Bishop.

Dr. Bishop: Sure.

Pat: 0:00:30.0 I quote, “I have often used the phrase that school district’s use other people’s money to take care of other people’s children. I take this to heart. As superintendent, I’m a show of value in our state and cities investment. I must provide a return to Alaska. I’m willing and able to meet this challenge. Ask our state leaders to work with the public schools to provide the resources for students in Alaska to be successful and contributing members of the state. Do not sell Alaska’s students short.”

That is a bold and hard-hitting message. Dr. Bishop, welcome to the show.

Dr. Bishop: Thank you.

Pat: 0:01:08.9 Would you like to comment on that?

Dr. Bishop: 0:01:11.9 Well certainly. Many other states are going through some transitions as well. In Alaska, our economy is based off of oil, and when oil prices fell before $50 a barrel, for quite some time in my career they were over $100.

So there was always plenty of funds to support all kinds of state projects, whether it was health care, roads, building, as well as schools. 0:01:39.1 You know, our state came under some hard times and basically, we looked to pretty much just make some drastic cuts to education while we still continued to talk about growing our state’s economy. Well those two don’t really fit together. If we, like I said, sell students short now, our state in the future will pay a bigger price.

Pat: 0:02:04.7 Absolutely. That is, that is really, you know, looking down the future ten, 15, 20 years from now. What we invest in now will pay dividends 20 years from now. And that takes a visionary to actually look at that and do those hard decisions and take care of work now. Thank you for that.

0:02:23.7 You have been in education for 26 years. Can you share with the listeners what that path looked like for you? Becoming the Anchorage School District Superintendent today.

Dr. Bishop: 0:02:33.0 Sure. Well, I became an educator back in 1990 and after graduating, I went to Texas State University in Texas and came up to Alaska. Had my first job at a 3rd grade classroom, and was absolutely wonderful.

Had a very, very, I would say professional and demanding, commanding if you will, principal that really helped shape my career at that time. 0:03:00.5 I think to be a very good educator, even almost 27 years ago now, she was – the use of data was, I mean, everywhere in our school. Even though that wasn’t the sign of times, she certainly had us focus on that.

But I moved – I had a background in math as well, so I finished my teaching career, if you will, as an algebra teacher. I taught 8th grade algebra in the middle school.

0:03:34.2 From there, just took the very traditional path, if you will, to an assistant principal job in a couple schools, and then a principal job in an elementary school. 0:03:45.2 And I chose to move to elementary school at that time because my own children were entering elementary school. So it was a very nice opportunity to be able to be with your students in school, your own kids. And I think that many educators find that as an added benefit to the job.

0:04:01.0 But from there, was tapped to – at that time we really did a turnaround in the reading in the schools that I was in. And was tapped by the superintendent at that time to become the assistant superintendent. I had just finished my doctorate at the University of Oregon, as well at the time. 0:04:17.5

Pat: 0:04:18.2 Congratulations on that.

Dr. Bishop: 0:04:19.3 Thank you. Never thought I would go to district office, but the call came and I challenged myself that way. I worked under two superintendents as an assistant and unfortunately at the time in my prior school district, the superintendent passed away unexpectedly.

0:04:37.8 And that’s not a traditional career ladder, but then school board had asked me to take over. And I had five successful years in a neighbouring school district. And recently was recruited for the new Anchorage job. And it’s been wonderful. An excellent, fun career. Good people and a great place. Alaska is wonderful.

Pat: 0:05:01.7 Awesome. So, just picking off what you just mentioned. So you were previously the superintendent of Matanuska-Susitna School District 0:05:09.2, what was the transition like to Alaska, to Anchorage.

Dr. Bishop: 0:05:12.9 Sure. The biggest transition was really the size. So MatSu certainly wan’t a small district, according to the numbers of school districts across the country. About 19,000 students. But certainly, Anchorage is two and a half that size. And Anchorage is actually one of the top largest 100 largest school districts in the nation.

Pat: 0:05:38.1 Number 97.

Dr. Bishop: 0:05:40.5 So it, you know, that transition – so it wasn’t necessarily – things that occur in schools, problems and issues, they really – I’ve been working with teachers, been working with families and students, so those types of things in schools weren’t any different.

0:05:56.2 I would say from a school district of probably 2000 to 50,000, kids are the same. 0:06:02.8 In just what we deal with. But what was very different was there were a lot more layers in Anchorage. As we talk about, kind of, we are sub-government, if you will, you know, in the kindest term of bureaucracy, we had some bureaucratic layers that, in order to get things done, was a challenge.

Pat: 0:06:22.2 So we’ll get into that a little bit later, but you’ve been Anchorage School District’s Superintendent for about a year now. While it’s clear you’ve been busy during this time, what achievement are you most proud of in your first year?

Dr. Bishop: 0:06:33.6 Well certainly, just creating a solid team at the district office to focus outward. We had worked in many silos. I don’t know if we just grew up from being small to large and when that happens, kids aren’t always the focus.

And so we needed to work smarter. 0:06:52.6 Lots of people were doing good work. Working hard. But we weren’t working very smart towards the outcomes for kids. So, breaking down those silos. We created really, which is on our website as well, a public dashboard for our data. Whether it’s attendance, discipline, achievement data. We have a look at all times, 24-7 into different schools, into different demographics.

Of course, following all 0:07:20.4 [Inaudible]. But it really keeps us – it lets us know, if our goals are set out there and we want to achieve them, how do we hold ourselves accountable to those goals. 0:07:30.5 And so really creating that open transparency helped break down the silos that were within our system.

Pat: 0:07:37.2 That is awesome. So the biggest problem was silos. People were working and excelling in silos and you wanted to break down those silos and make data flow back and forth. So you’ve been, as I understand it, the way to address that was by using data. By using analytics.

Dr. Bishop: Correct.

Pat: 0:07:59.9 I’m sorry, I just want to understand how did you go about, like, really the nuts and bolts of executing your plan?

Dr. Bishop: 0:08:07.2 Really, getting the right people on the bus and the right seats on the bus. So, worked with folks here about looking at what they knew, what they could do. Very, very talented people were able to put together this dashboard and tableau.

And again, it was extent data. Data that we already had that we just weren’t using. 0:08:27.6 And, so we weren’t working very smart. And the different silos I’m talking about are – we had a general education. Supervisors of schools. Then we had special education. Then we had ELL, or English Language Learner section. Indian Ed.

So we had all these different areas that had funds flow into them and then they had their own goals. 0:08:49.6 And yet a child could be touched by four different departments in our district without any of them having the data from the previous groups.

0:09:00.1 So really, we started holding really – talking to principals about the data in their school, about how the students are achieving, and made that real to them. Sometimes we spent so much time just looking for the data and trying to find the data that we never talked about it, or when we did talk about it, we would just admire it rather than accepting it for what it is and saying, “How are we going to make things different for kids’ outcomes?”

0:09:25.6 It was always about how do we want our kids to enter their world. And certainly, we weren’t doing a good enough job, especially with certain student groups in Anchorage School District.

Pat: 0:09:37.0 Sure, sure, sure. So as I understand, you’re using the data for rationalization of effort between these silos right?

Dr. Bishop: 0:09:43.8 Absolutely. So there isn’t, you know, it’s not pointing fingers, it’s really shining more of a flashlight on our goals, what we ..

Pat: 0:09:52.4 Don’t reinvent the wheel if somebody’s already done it.

Dr. Bishop: Exactly.

Pat: 0:09:57.5 So, so everybody’s rowing the same direction. So before you got into the district and dug a little deeper into it’s functions and stuff, what did you think was going to be the biggest challenge, and what surprised you?

Dr. Bishop: 0:10:12.2 Yeah. I actually – I knew that the challenge was going to be student outcomes because we’re always asked – I take that very seriously when I want the kids to be successful at the next level. And the next level is their career, college, you know, whether it’s military, whatever they want to do. 0:10:33.0 Have them be successful.

And really, that’s for the – the eye is on public education. For public education to survive, I believe we need to start to respond to what our community, what our country is asking from public education for what kids can do. No more can we – you know I don’t think people really care as much about what kids know any more, it’s what are they going to do with what they know.

Certainly computers and all kinds of smart phones will tell you any information you want to know, but it’s more about what you can do. 0:11:06.2 So I really thought changing that and getting that message about 21st century learning was going to be paramount. And it certainly still is, and that’s a goal, but I was surprised, if you will, about the lack of connectedness within the system. Being so large.

0:11:26.4 And so then that’s where we started first, to have everyone understand. We had too much variance in our system and we need to lower the variance of the experiences of kids so that it didn’t matter what side of town you’re on or what school you’re in or who’s your supervisor, or what program you’re in.

0:11:43.7 But then we had to keep the standards high. So, keep standards high and lower the variance was kind of our goal as we talked through the systems internally in the school district, so that the focus at the district office, if you will, is focused outwards to schools.

Pat: 0:12:00.9 Focusing a little bit on Dr. Bishop here. You know the higher you go, the lonelier you get, so when you were getting on top of a large school district, what were the resources available to you to reach out? Maybe other superintendents, support structure, to see how things are done in large districts. Did you reach out to other districts? And how did you really – was it a problem at all in the first place?

Dr. Bishop: 0:12:35.0 You know, I had participated in a national superintendent certificate program, and so I was connected to colleagues from across the country through that national certificate. As well as just reading journals, attending large conferences.

Certainly the Council of the Great City Schools 0:12:51.3 is a council that works to support the large school districts across the nation, which are mostly urban school districts, which have a little bit different types of concerns and challenges than rural districts.

0:13:06.1 So I did pick up a phone a lot, call different colleagues around, read the research that’s out there, and understand how can change take place.

But, interestingly enough, people were ready. People here were just ready to make it work, because see they too had been reading and gone to conferences and kept themselves up in, I guess, a scholarly way about best practices. It’s just they didn’t have someone, I think that connected each of them together to say that this is how we are going to do things now. 0:13:40.4 Where there just wasn’t that personal – so they always had the responsibility, but not the authority, if you will.

0:13:48.6 So, you know, having the authority, but that also comes with accountability. If we’re going to move forward, and you know, sometimes take some risks and reorganization, we’re also going to be accountable for what we do.

Pat: 0:14:03.6 Of course. The board is going to hold you to it. And that’s another thing what we really want to achieve with this whole podcast, is to create some kind of a peer to peer platform for thought leaders in education. Share the wins and share the problems we all face so we can learn from each other. Going down this path, it was new for us as well in the education space, being an ed company.

We found those platforms are lacking and thus we started this whole quest to create a platform where thought leaders can exchange information and I’m glad you’ve felt that that was really helpful for you.

Dr. Bishop: 0:14:41.3 Absolutely. Yeah. Just using that information out there. Other people talking, and really just not being so proud that everything is going perfectly. You did mention there are challenges, and sometimes, you know, I’m ok believing if I’m taking a step forward if I think it’s going to be the best for kids. Sometimes things could be done in a different way and you learn from that, and I’d be happy to take information from others that have worked through some of these issues. 0:15:14.3 As well as share the challenges that have occurred in Anchorage.

Pat: 0:15:18.7 That is so great. And so, if you were to – so Anchorage would primarily be considered – would lean more on the rural side than on the urban…

Dr. Bishop: 0:15:28.4 Anchorage is actually more urban.

Pat: More urban, ok.

Dr. Bishop: 0:15:30.3 Yeah, we have our population, our traditional minority, if you will, is a majority in Anchorage school district now. 80% of our kids come to our school speaking English, but of the 20% who don’t come, it’s a 100 different languages.

So Anchorage is – we’re not a sanctuary city, but we certainly are an immigrant city. So we have very, very diverse, less than 50% of our students are white-Anglo. Our largest group is Pacific Islander, Polynesian.

Pat: 0:16:13.7 I did pull up the demographics. It was a very diverse, very – that is great, that is great for learning, for education for kids who grow up in such mixed, diverse classroom, they learn so much more.

Dr. Bishop: 0:16:25.4 But certainly, we’re not a New York.

Pat: 0:16:29.4 Yeah of course. So, you know, after a year of being here, what do you think are your challenges moving forward in the next year, the next couple of years?

Dr. Bishop: 0:16:37.8 Now that we really have the educational, you know, ship moving forward, and understanding our goals and objectives for the school board for student achievement. It is back to what you had mentioned at the beginning. 0:16:54.8 Really, the economic status of our state. And as well, really what’s going to happen with the funding at the national level, is also of concern.

0:17:06.4 Many programs that we have established our built off of federal grants. Those entitlement grants. But even locally. 0:17:15.3 I know that we can continue to work smarter, if you will, but the investment, whether it’s in infrastructure, technology, people, teachers, we still need to support our kids. And it is said that, you know, these kids that we’re teaching now are our state’s future. And I know that’s been cliche. 0:17:38.7 We don’t believe that. I’ve made a joke a few times: If we don’t educate kids, we’re going to be afraid of them.

Pat: 0:17:46.3 That is so true. And that’s absolutely true. So, I know you touched on quite a few of these – what are the major challenges you find coming down your path in the next, say, three, four, five years in the education system?

Dr. Bishop: 0:18:06.1 Really, in a more global picture outside of Anchorage, it’s certainly is, for me, the confidence of public education. And public education to provide the learning experiences that students will need for the 21st century.

0:18:22.6 In that, I had mentioned, it really isn’t so much content. Content’s not king anymore. We need to figure out how kids are going to use that they know. How do they work with others. How do they fail and dust themselves off and get right back up and start again.

0:18:41.8 I believe coding has a lot to do with that. And really, understanding the new work that’s out there. It’s going to be imperative. 0:18:52.8 And not so much infusing technology for technology’s sake. I’m not talking about computers. I’m talking about the bigger picture. The computers and the IT are the tools, but really understanding data, understanding information. Good information, bad information.

They need to really become producers, if you will, and designers. More so than just consumers of technology. 0:19:18.2 And that’s going to be their world. So how do we create schools that offer those experiences. Pre-experiences, if you will, that’s going to build the capacity and the type of thinking that they’re going to need.

Pat: 0:19:27.4 That’s absolutely key. I want to hang to that aspect which you said. Content is no longer the king. I was just speaking to another, pretty bright mind here on this podcast a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that it’s no longer the traditional way wherein a student comes to the school or the classroom to gain knowledge. He already has immense flow of knowledge from different channels. The teacher has to realize this and actually, kind of, a teacher is more like a shepherd. He’s channelizing those different sources, making sense of it all to those students.

In a sense, it’s a new paradigm, and we want our teachers to be acute with the new information age, so to speak. 0:20:11.4 And it makes so much sense what you just mentioned. Content is no longer kind, because people still hold on to those old thoughts.

Dr. Bishop: 0:20:18.8 And so now our work force and our teachers in our classrooms have to experience that change as well, and that paradigm shift. And many our right on the ball, do it, it’s natural for them, and others, it’s difficult to give up. When you started your career by being the smartest person, who knew all the information, you were able to share that, and then that’s what brought you that joy in the classroom.

But now it’s working with kids and solving problems and working through issues, and thinking. And again, a large part of this, which we have forgotten I think, we have just set everything up in public education for kids to just go through the shoot.

0:21:08.2 I really think we need to start some challenges where kids do learn to fail and restart.

Pat: 0:21:13.1 Great, great. So shifting gears a little bit here. Getting back into the budget aspects and stuff. You recently announced you are preparing to recall on non-tenured teacher layoff notices. Which is amazing news. What happened there?

Dr. Bishop: 0:21:26.1 Yeah well, the House and the Senate in Alaska were on two different planes, if you will. The House supported the – and it was flat funding, so there wasn’t an increase from year to year, but it was flat funding for education for which we built our budget.

When the Senate went to the table, they had a 5.7% cut. And just understanding – we do have quite a bit of attrition, having over 3000 teachers, but the issue was – is that we really needed to use the policy and the statutes that are established for recall. 0:22:05.1 In that if teachers are not notified by the last day of school, non-tenured teachers, they automatically have a contract the next year.

And what we needed to focus on, at that point in time, building our secondary schedules for the courses and the classes that we would need to teach kids rather than just having the recall of whoever was hired last gets back first. 0:22:26.8 We really needed to focus on the content and the certification of teachers.

So we did have to layoff knowing that we we would be – this year we are moving back into the school year with about 100 less teachers. But we had made that reduction in our normal budget cycle in February.

0:22:44.1 But really, in a district this large, and understanding the outcomes in what we need for kids, we had to have the right teachers in the classrooms. 0:22:53.8 It couldn’t be a matter of last, you know, in, first out. If we needed a particular science teacher, a particular english teacher and we had social studies and they were first on the recall list, we needed to ensure that those people we needed to put in front of students were the ones hired back.

0:23:15.4 Consequently, because it came at the eleventh hour. School was already out, our budget was already passed when this went down at the state level. We had to create that pool to be able to pull folks back. However, the Governor, just last week signed the budget for that flat funding which we had originally built our budget on.

Pat: 0:23:38.6 That is awesome. Congratulations on that.

Dr. Bishop: Thank you. I was like ooooh, you know. 0:23:42.2 You know, we would have just had to reorganize again, and we did build our budgets off of ratios so it’s scalable. It’s just that – it’s a lot of work when you have almost 50,000 kids.

Pat: 0:23:55.5 Sure, sure, sure. And let me dive on certain aspects, which is not really apparent to other people who are looking at the state education board from outside. Or different school districts from outside.

There’s a lot of dynamics which is involved in making sure that the well-choreographed dance between the superintendents and the board does not spill out on the street. Are they rowing the same direction? 0:24:19.5 You know what I mean.

So that is something that is so critical for the school districts to function optimally with the same clear message. So, any ideas or any tips and techniques and which other superintendents and thought leaders in the district level, how they should work with their board in close proximity to make things happen.

Dr. Bishop: 0:24:44.1 Yeah. Well certainly, I think that was maybe a – with a prior superintendent that wasn’t in a good relationship with the board here in Anchorage. So that really spilled over into the administration. Actually, maybe that’s a little bit of the silos that I saw here. Understanding that if kids outcomes are really what we want, there has to be a good relationship between the policy makers and those folks that pass policy and budget, with the work that needs to get done.

0:25:16.5 There needs to have an established trust, and of course, the backgrounds of all – I have seven board members. They’re very diverse backgrounds. Very diverse politically as well. But they do come together for kids, and it really, in that transparency aspect of being open and honest about the work of the district, and not hiding things or hiding data.

0:25:44.0 There was very diff – much difficulty the board had reported in getting reports and finding out how kids are doing. Whether they’re financial or academic reports. And I really just opened that transparency up. 0:25:57.0 That that’s public information anyway, why would we create million roadblocks in order for the board, who has to make decisions.

0:26:04.9 I make sure that I – you know, whether it’s a cup of coffee, or just having a chat in the office, that I’m open and responsive to board members’ needs. How they like to receive information. Do they like emails, do they like calls, do they like face-to-face. And really, depending on the generation that they are, it is very different.

So my staff knows that we’re open and honest and respectful, and the board is as well. The key is that I promised the board that there will be no surprises. They’re not going to get a surprise at one of their meetings. And then that respect back they’ve also shared with me. There won’t be any surprises for me. 0:26:44.0 So we’re not going to try to catch each other, we’re really going to work towards helping kids. Things are better for kids when superintendents and school boards work collectively. 0:26:55.7.

Pat: 0:26:57.7 So I hear transparency is loud and clear. It comes out transparency in dealing, transparency in communication, was one of the key aspects with your board.

Dr. Bishop: 0:27:07.2 Absolutely.

Pat: 0:27:09.9 That is such a great takeaway from that. Also, I wanted to – I know school districts across the country are facing budget crunches, you have taken this problem head on and you’ve been addressing it a the forefront and you’ve been leading the charge and making sure the message goes out loud and clear.

0:27:28.4 So, any talking points, what you can share as best practices – because you have clearly made the messaging loud and clear, and it comes out in all your communications that this is a serious problem. We all need to sit up and take notice.

0:27:48.4 So any messages like that which you want to share with other thought leaders, other superintendents sitting there and thinking, “Geez, I have the same problem, how do I deal with it?”

Dr. Bishop: 0:27:56.6 Right. Yeah, I mean, I think it comes from the disposition that — I mean I don’t feel like when there’s a cut at the state level that it’s something done to me. And I wouldn’t want to do something to other people. I really want to work with other people, and so at that point, I’ve also established good working relationships with our delegation.

So the delegation down in Juno from the Anchorage school district. Or the Anchorage municipality. 0:28:26.6 Certainly, finding out where they’re coming from, what their stakeholders, if you will, their communities would like to see in public education, and being responsive to that. Again, that open and honest communication. We might not agree on things, but there’s never a shut door. You know, I’ll pick up the phone. If they’re wanting to understand, “At this school, I heard this from one of my constituents.” I’m able to respond and share openly. Work towards their goals.

But we have to understand that we can’t put our head in the sand and think that it isn’t a problem everywhere, that you know, it’s just something that don’t like us. We have to help solve it, and part of that solving it is having confidence in public education.

0:29:18.0 We here in Alaska, whether it’s the local community or state, I want them to know that the money that is spent for students to attend school every day is going to be a return on their investment. And as much as I can show and be prepared and responsive to the needs out there is what we need to do.

0:29:38.6 So, it’s working with university, working with different organizations within our own city, whether it’s Chamber or Rotaries. Get kids out there, get kids demonstrating what they can do, adding value. Those are the types of things when I’m deciding what to spend money on and how to prioritize, understanding and seeing face to face the realities of kids in schools, and what happens, is going to be beneficial. 0:30:12.3 But, I never have an excuse or a woe is me. It’s always about how can I next figure this out. What ever is next that we can figure out.

Pat: 0:30:20.2 Awesome. Never ponder on your rearview mirror. Let’s see what we can do to fix it right? That is awesome. That is so many great takeaways from there. So what advice do you wish somebody gave you when you first started as a superintendent?

Dr. Bishop: 0:30:35.2 You know, I guess – you know, when you become a principal and you work with people that just, that natural tendency to be a leader, when I came to the district office level, I guess – it was a little bit intimidating I have to say, so new superintendents, it is intimidating, but work with the people you have, and be confident in your preparation and your experiences, and continue to read, read, read. And use. And now podcasts, or journals, or connecting with people. Get the information that you have and then trust yourself in making decisions. 0:31:19.2 But always make them with people. I would say to do that. Have confidence in your preparation and work with people.

Pat: 0:31:26.8 Beautiful, beautiful. That’s some really strong message for listeners out there. So before we wrap up, I like to ask all our guests a few rapid-fire questions. The questions will be quick but your answers does not have to be. 0:31:40.1 The first one is, what do you spend too much time doing?

Dr. Bishop: 0:31:44.7 Answering emails.

Pat: 0:31:46.8 What do you spend not enough time doing?

Dr. Bishop: 0:31:48.9 Getting out and just walking through schools.

Pat: 0:31:51.5 That is good. What do you wish more people knew about your job?

Dr. Bishop: 0:31:58.4 I wish they knew all the different, I guess, social pressures and social ill wills that walk into schools every day. For which schools work through. So, in order to get to the academic side, we really have to take care of the social. And I’m not so sure the community understands the many, many types of supports that go into a child’s education.

Pat: 0:32:26.3 That is good. What emerging trends in education are you keeping an eye on?

Dr. Bishop: 0:32:31.0 Certainly just IT technology, learning. Just being smarter. Data usage. Anything that could make a better experience for a teacher and a student in a classroom that will reach those outcomes.

Pat: 0:32:47.7 Thank you Dr. Bishop. This is such amazing takeaways from this short chat. I could’ve taken off in so many different directions. I was tempted to just hold on to stick to the script. I know we’re coming up on the time. So where can listeners go to hear more from you? I’m sure a lot of listeners would want to reach out to you and, “Hey Dr. Bishop, can I have a few minutes with you?” So where would be the best place for them to go to.

Dr. Bishop: 0:33:09.7 Absolutely. The Anchorage School District’s website is – just look up Anchorage school district, but it’s at asdk12.org. And certainly, different publications that I’ve done are on there as well as my email and phone number.

Pat: 0:33:30.6 Thank you Dr. Bishop, I just want to say for taking this – thank you for this time you took today, and it was great being able to pick your brain. I’m sure our listeners would have gotten a ton of information from spending the 30 minutes with you today. Thanks again.

Dr. Bishop: Thank you.

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