Blog from your Superintendent
What A Great Week!Posted by Melissa Stilley on 12/5/2018 8:00:00 AM
What a great week!
Spirits are high as Tangipahoa prepares to make not one but TWO appearances at the State High School Football Championship games. Our Kentwood High Kangaroos and the Amite High Warriors are making their latest trips to the Superdome in an attempt to cap off their seasons with championship trophies. It’s an exciting time not only for these young men and their families but for our entire parish, which will take centerstage at noon on Thursday and again on Friday.
We don’t talk about the impact of sports on our schools and our students very much, so this is a good time to point out that academics and athletics, as well as other extra-curricular programs, work hand-in-hand to create a well-rounded student. Aside from the simple health benefits of physical activity, there’s a host of important life skills our students learn from team sports—from cooperating with others to self-discipline and of course, building a strong work ethic. Our championship teams are demonstrable proof that hard work pays off, and these young student-athletes are a great example to their peers and our younger students, who look up to them.
Of course, these players are students first, and I know their coaches remind them every day that they have to keep up with their schoolwork to be able to play on Friday nights. Talk about a tough schedule! I’m so proud of these players, because they’ve learned how to balance school and sports, and their hard work is making them successful both on and off the field.
So as we head into Thursday and Friday’s games, I ask that you join me in saluting the hard work that our student-athletes have put in throughout this fall semester. We are so proud of them, and we wish them great success in their State Championship bids. I can’t wait to be there cheering them on, and I look forward to seeing many of you in the Dome as well.
#TangiProudPosted by Melissa Stilley on 9/21/2018
So tell me: who doesn’t like a little good news every now and then?
I admit it. I’m a positive person. Sometimes I’m positive to a fault. It’s just my nature. I always look for the good in a person or a situation.That’s a characteristic my parents instilled me, and I’m proud to say that I instilled it in my own children and in the children I’ve taught throughout the years. I firmly believe in the power of good news.
Of course, there’s science to suggest the long-lasting effect of such good news. In 2015, former reporter Michelle Gielan released a book called “Broadcasting Happiness” which studied the impact of good news on TV. She found that broadcast news viewers who watched “good news” in the morning reported having a good day 88 percent of the time! Can you imagine? One little nugget of good influenced those viewers so deeply that they reported their entire day was positive!
I’ll take that kind of positivity any day of the week!
Keeping that in mind, I have challenged our principals to share with me just one good thing happening at their schools every week. We call this our “weekly brags,” and they have become some of my favorite things to read! All over our parish, GREAT things are happening in our classrooms, on our playgrounds, and around our school communities!
There are entirely too many good things happening in our schools this fall, but these are among my favorite brags in recent days:
*Independence High recently held a blood drive. Principal Chasity Collier led the way and impressed upon her students the importance of donating blood.
*At Greenville Park, the 7th Grade American History students are studying the effects of the French and Indian War while our 8th Graders are analyzing the Mississippi River Watershed system. Check out this video: https://youtu.be/
*At Loranger Elementary, second grade teacher Brandy Tuminello created homemade rekenreks to share with teachers. This tool helps our Eureka math students visualize the concepts being taught in their classrooms.
*Woodland Park 2nd Grade students are making Eureka math fun, learning to measure using centimeter cubes.
*At Sumner, student Deandra Womack earned a shout-out for designing the cover art for all of the school’s 2018 sports programs. Deandra is an Adobe-certified associate in Photoshop, and she’s showcasing her talent to design and publish her work, which is printed in the school’s business department.
*Sumner and Amite High School’s Talented Theatre students have started work on their 20th annual student-developed, written, and produced movie project. Filming will begin in just a few weeks, and the movie premier date is scheduled in early 2019!
*In Ponchatoula, our little Tucker Gators have learned to say “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” Each week one student from every first and second grade class at Tucker is awarded the “Golden Gator” designation and recognized in a group photo that is sent out to the local media and posted on the school website.
And there are countless more brags I wish I could share with you tonight. Of course, our district is constantly looking for ways to celebrate our students, and we highlight their accomplishments not only on their individual school websites, but also on our district website, in the local media, and on social media. We have showcased our students’ success stories at our monthly board meetings, which are recorded and available for viewing on YouTube. We have so much to be proud of in our school system, and I hope you’ll join me in to taking a few minutes each week to see the good things happening in our schools. We are making progress every day, changing our students’ lives and building stronger communities for tomorrow.
Safety, Communication, and AwarenessPosted by Melissa Stilley on 9/10/2018
What a beautiful morning! As I sit here this morning, watching birds play in our back yard, I can’t help but be grateful. Last week was tough, but here we are, relaxing under blue skies, having made it safely through those tough days and looking forward to a GREAT week ahead!
So aside from the weather, what’s been happening in our schools? I’m proud to say that in spite of the weather, our teachers wrapped up the first phase of our active shooter training this week. I don’t know what makes me more excited—is it the fact that every school employee in Tangipahoa Parish has now been educated on the most up-to-date theories on how to protect our students in the event of a crisis on campus? Or is it the fact that when challenged to complete this training before Christmas, our school employees were so receptive to this program and eager to get started that our entire parish completed their training in less than 45 days after I issued the challenge?
I cannot fully express how proud I am of our team for taking this challenge to heart and getting our employees trained so quickly. I want to thank everyone for getting on board with this initiative. I know the training schedule presented some challenges to each of us. I especially want to thank our parents who supported us when we announced that we would have to close school sites early to hold these seminars. Our parents and caregivers not only encouraged us but also helped us by taking on that half-day dismissal without any question. As always, I am blown away by your support!
As many of you know, several schools have already been called to put their training into action. What you may not realize is that safety protocols are put to use in all of our schools many times throughout the year. That doesn’t mean we have someone on campus with a gun. A lot of times, our schools are put on safety alert for things happening several blocks away in a neighborhood or down the road. Sometimes our schools are put on alert for weather-related issues like a tornado warning. Sometimes we’re asked to stay in place because of a suspicious person walking down the road near a school. Sometimes it simply involves a custody dispute or a family crisis that bubbles over to a campus. In those cases, we use a term, “lockdown” to indicate to our team on site and to the public as a whole that there is a safety issue in or around that campus.
What I’ve learned in these first few weeks as superintendent is that the term “lockdown” causes as much emotional strife as whatever the safety issue is that prompted us to use that word. I actually prefer the term “locked in,” or the old-school “lock-in,” which more accurately reflects the protocols we employ to protect your child in that situation. Just like you would do at home, the child is instructed to stay in a particular room or set of buildings until the threat passes. Our teachers go out of their way to make these “locked-in” episodes mirror a typical school day. Sometimes when these threats occur over several hours, our teachers have to get creative, and you’ll probably hear that students were given treats like watching a movie in school or having lunch brought to them at their desks during a “lock-in” event. The goal first and foremost is to make students comfortable and keep them safe even during these heightened alerts.
Moving forward, I’m asking for your input and your suggestions on how we can better communicate those safety concerns with our community. We already have systems in place to send out automated calls, texts, and emails to our parents who are registered in our system--by the way, if you’re not getting those notices, please contact your child’s school so we update your info and make sure you’re getting those notices! This semester, we’ve also allowed our students who had cell phones to call or text their parents to let them know what was happening at school and keep them in the loop with their children. We’ve also, with the help of our local law enforcement officials, had an opportunity to set up an off-site staging location near school where parents could wait for their children, if they choose to do so, as a result of a safety issue on campus. These are just a few of the accommodations we’ve implemented, and I’m open others, assuming they can be cleared with our law enforcement partners. So let me know what you’d like us to look into or if you’ve heard about strategies being used successfully in other districts, please pass those along to me. I am always looking for ways for us to improve!
Speaking of improvement, I want to give a big shout out to our schools that have started their own Facebook channels on social media! Facebook is an excellent way to reach our parents and it’s a wonderful tool to showcase the GREAT things happening in our schools. I am excited to see new school-based FB pages being established by our school administrators, and I look forward to seeing how they use this technology to communicate with our parents. Times change, and as school personnel, we need to be a part of that change. Facebook is just one way that we are adapting to communicate with our parents using the tools they like to use to communicate.
Another way that we are communicating is by continued meet and greet and networking-type events. On Thursday, I attended the Greater Hammond Chamber’s meet and greet event for the fall elections. This was an excellent program, and I commend the Chamber for their constant efforts to educate and raise public awareness on community happenings. One question I heard over and over again at the Thursday event involved our School Board and who my choice would be for Board member. Let me say this publicly: like you, I am simply one voter. I do not endorse a single candidate nor do I have any reason to push one candidate over another. At the end of the day, I am a school board employee; I work for the Board, and as I said during the interview process, I intend to work with all Board members, no matter who is chosen. The public chooses the Board and the Board chooses a Superintendent, not the other way around. School Board policy is also very clear that employees are not to get involved in political contests, so you won’t find me pushing any particular candidate, nor will I be asking you to vote a certain way. That’s not my role.
I will ask you to take time to study the ballot. I think it’s critical that all of our voices are heard. And if you want to be sure your voice is heard, please take the time to vote. It’s a right and a privilege, and as we head into another week—particularly this week when we remember those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, I think it’s important to remember that freedom is not free, and that we need to treasure the freedoms we are afforded here in the United States. I pray that is something we never forget.
Please give us your feedback on school safety concerns below:
School SafetyPosted by Melissa Stilley on 8/30/2018
I’m sitting here tonight, still thinking about this day and focusing like many of you are tonight on school safety.
Today was one of those days.
Between you and me, it really started Wednesday afternoon, when I learned that one of our students had reported a threat to her school administrator.
The principal contacted law enforcement, and together they worked through the night to resolve the issue and make arrangements to safely open school for our students this morning. They handled it like professionals, and the principal even shared with me that while she was sad to have to take these steps, she was so thankful for the recent training she and her team had completed, so everyone was on the same page on how to proceed. She also expressed appreciation to that one brave student who came forward and felt a need to communicate the problem.
I thought for a moment that perhaps we were making progress. And then, just a few hours after the all clear sounded on one case, another emerged. That’s the case that so many of you have heard about and watched unfold on TV and social media today. I was in constant communication with our team at Vinyard Elementary and law enforcement, and I’ve got to tell you that our children were in very good hands. Every member of our team was focused like a laser beam on one goal—making sure that our students were safe, and I can assure you that they were, thanks to so many of our partners.
Tonight, I want to thank our parents and community members, too. As a mom, I know how frightening it was to hear about the events of this morning, and I know that many of you waited in the hot sun, camping out until you could be reunited with your children. Through it all, you worked with your child’s school; you worked with law enforcement, and at the end of the day, you were a huge part in helping us reassure your children that they were safe and that there were a lot of people who care about them and who are looking out for their well-being.
I want to thank those teachers and lunchroom workers who creatively found ways to make our children feel safe in this trying situation. Our lunchroom workers were amazing today! When the children couldn’t come to lunch, our cafeteria team brought lunch to them, and they made it fun and special, and it was just another way to reassure our children that everyone was working together to make them safe.
By the way, we got the call right around lunch time that investigators had resolved the case, and I cannot thank our local heroes, those men and women in blue, for all they did today to keep our children safe. Sheriff Edwards called me many, many times to reassure me that his deputies were doing all they could, and I am so thankful for their efforts and the efforts of all the partner agencies like Louisiana State Police, the Department of Public Safety, U.S. Customs, and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, who were an integral part of this case. Thank you one and all!
By the way, in the middle of all of this, our Roseland and Amite schools were attending their own crisis management training in Amite. The effort to keep every child in every school safe never ever stops. School safety is critical, because at the end of the day, our schools are an extension of home.
Our schools are safe havens. They are our students’ home-away-from-home.
Safety is therefore imperative.
I know a lot of people worry when they hear that a school has been put “on lockdown.” That word “lockdown” brings to mind some really horrific images, scenes that have become all-too-familiar in schools and communities across the United States.
I am thankful to say that we have never had that level of threat in a Tangipahoa Parish public school, and I pray that we never will.
That said, we remain vigilant, hosting these training exercises, and preparing for the worst--the unspeakable--while praying we never need to use those skills.
Today was one of those days. It could have been so much worse.
Thanks to so many of you, we got through it. Together.
And tomorrow will be a better day.
A Great StartPosted by Melissa Stilley on 8/20/2018
What a great week!
Our first full week of school is now in the books, and I am so impressed with the effort everyone is putting into this new year! From our teachers and school employees to our parents and our students, everyone is on board for a great school year!
In my travels across the parish, I am so excited to see your enthusiasm and team work in action! I think some of the most inspiring moments for me as your Superintendent has been receiving your emails and messages as you share the good things YOU are seeing on your campuses. I love the fact that we are looking for the good in our schools and that we are eager to share those good stories with others in our community.
Among my favorite stories this past week:
Loranger Elementary’s Lisa Genco is taking her role as the school’s curriculum coach to a new level! Mrs. Genco has used her talents to create a “Professional Development” room at her school where teachers can meet by subject level to plan lessons together. This cozy center is organized, inviting, and away from the hustle and bustle of school traffic. Teachers are loving this addition to the LES campus, and all it took was a little imagination and some TLC to make this room a reality!
On the subject of leadership, I was so excited to hear from our cafeteria workers and so many of our team members at Hammond Westside Montessori who wanted to share some kind words about their principal Jason Oller last Thursday. HWM is one of our parish’s largest schools, and as can happen, a staffing snafu left the cafeteria team struggling to get lunch served Thursday afternoon. Recognizing a need and being a great leader, Mr. Oller jumped in and helped serve lunch in the cafeteria that afternoon. And he didn’t just “get them through” the lunch service. Mr. Oller adjusted his schedule and stayed with the school food service team almost until dismissal time so he could help them get a head-start on Friday’s meal prep. I received so many calls and emails from our Hammond Westside family offering their thanks to Mr. Oller, and I’m proud to offer my appreciation to him in this forum as well. Mr. Oller truly put words into action last week, living out the culture of our school system.
And speaking of role models: I was so proud to meet Vinyard Elementary student Jaylin Brown last week on his campus. You may have read about Jaylin, who was recognized for looking out for a fellow student who was being teased for not having a belt. Jaylin took it upon himself to bring one of his belts from home and share it with the other student so he would no longer be teased. Jaylin is a soft-spoken, humble young man who impressed me with his compassion for others. I asked him what he wanted to do when he grows up and he said he would like to be a teacher! Jaylin is a perfect example of being “GREAT” in everything you do, and I’m so proud of the compassion this young man showed for his fellow student.
These are just a few of the incredible stories I’ve discovered in this first full week of school. As we all know, our people are our greatest resource here in Tangipahoa, and there are so many wonderful things happening in schools across our parish! I have no doubt this is going to be a GREAT school year!
I couldn’t let this week’s blog end without offering a special THANK YOU to my friends at Loranger High School, who honored me this week by adding my name to their “Paw Print” walkway this year! I am so proud to have my “paw” among our Class of 2019 at LHS, and I love how they celebrated our theme for this year in representing me! We’re going places, friends, and I am so excited to see where this journey takes us this year!
As always, I welcome your comments, your suggestions, and your insight as we move forward in this new school year. If I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to call me at (985) 748-2502 or email me at Melissa.Stilley@
TangiSchools.org. Thank you for all you do to make our students and this school system the very best!
First Week of SchoolPosted by Melissa Stilley on 8/11/2018
What a week!!!!
As I look back over the last seven days, I find myself feeling just so grateful to serve as your School Superintendent. Life takes us on so many unexpected journeys. As a young wife and mother, I never dreamed mine would bring me here, and I am so thankful to have this opportunity to share this experience with each of you!
A few takeaways:
On Saturday evening, I was blessed to attend this year’s Black Tie Affair in Hammond. It was an event like no other, and it was wonderful to be able to visit with so many friends (both old and new) at the Heritage Center. The event was sold out, a complete success, and featured speaker U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle, who focused his comments on unity and the beauty of diversity. He shared that in our collectiveness together we can build something great. Little did I know his words would become a resounding theme for the week ahead!
On Monday, our teachers returned to their schools and my team finalized plans to greet them in person Tuesday at our Back to School Rally. In fairness, I was a little nervous about our rally. It would be the first time in modern history that all of our teachers would be brought together under the same roof at the same moment to welcome them back to work. By the way, historically, these "business meetings” have been serious events, so the rally we were proposing was not only new to our parish but it would also be a complete departure from “the way we’ve always done it.”
Fast-forward a few hours to 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. I had barely finished my coffee as I pulled into the University Center parking area and there, for the first time since we said the word “rally,” I smiled. I mean really smiled. I was in awe, watching our teachers who were on site more than an hour ahead of schedule as they gathered to take pictures and soak in the excitement of a new school year. Friends, the doors of the University Center hadn’t even opened yet, and we had teachers running around greeting friends, taking selfies, and smiling to be back at work!
The atmosphere outside didn’t come close to the excitement we felt inside the University Center! It was like a state championship ball game. We had cheering sections; we had spirit signs. We had people dressed up in team colors and tutus and wearing face paint and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. We had beach balls! We had cowbells (I heard you, Sumner!) We had PE whistles. We had air horns.
We had fun. Our teachers started their year ready to have fun. And as I stood on the floor of the University Center, taking it all in, I saw Judge Lemelle’s words coming to life. In our collectiveness, we were going to build something amazing TOGETHER!
Now before you get the idea that it was all fun and games, we did have an incredible line up of speakers ranging from Louisiana’s First Lady Donna Edwards to our Parish President Robby Miller. Dr. John Crain and Dean Paula Calderone from Southeastern Louisiana University met with us, and Sheriff Daniel Edwards joined us to talk school safety. Of course, my favorite speakers were our Tangipahoa Parish School students, who offered as rousing and motivating speeches as any professional speaker I’ve ever heard! Everyone had the same message—Be confident in yourself. Use the gifts you’ve been given, and remember to never give up your dream to build a brighter tomorrow by teaching the children of today.
IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!
I’ve never been so inspired and so proud to be a part of our Tangipahoa Parish School System as I was that day—until Thursday, when our students arrived on campus! Talk about excitement!!! It was palpable going from school to school. I’ve visited schools on the first day of classes, but I’ve got to tell you this opening day was one for the books! Shiny bright schools, festive classrooms, happy employees and excited children—can you think of a better recipe for a successful school year? Now, I know we have some growing pains to get through in the next few days. A lot of our schools are packed to capacity, and honestly, I was surprised to see some of the areas of growth we’re experiencing, but I know without the shadow of a doubt we will get through this and we will make the best of it for our parish.
Oh, the places we will go! This journey is just beginning, but I sense such optimism moving into this new school year. I can’t wait to see what our schools are going to do this year! I can’t wait to see how our children are going to excel this year! And I can’t wait to share all of the good news with you, our stakeholders on this journey.
As always, I am here to serve you. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and share your thoughts. My phone number is (985) 748-2502. My email is Melissa.Stilley@
TangiSchools.org. Thank you, as always, for the opportunity to serve you, and thank you for entrusting your children to us.
Crunch Time! Back to School 2018-2019Posted by Melissa Stilley on 8/1/2018
Crunch time is here. Everywhere I go, folks are talking about getting their children ready to go back to school. If you’ve driven by our campuses this week, you’ve probably seen lots of activity at our schools as parents reach out for info on enrolling students and teachers return to their classrooms to make them inviting for the new year.
This past week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with our principals for two big days of planning. As always, our principals are hard at work, building on programs they shared with you last year and making their schools better for the year ahead. We were honored to have powerhouse speakers like Judge Blair Edwards who made time to come share information with us about valuable programs for our students and their families. We also had some fun with our very own selfie station in front of the Technology Center. Oh, the places we will go in Tangipahoa!
And I can’t wait to see all of you!
As we gear up for these final days of preparations, I’ve been looking at our plans for the new year, and they are both exciting and a little nerve-wracking. I guess change always is. The 2018-19 school year is going to represent a year of great changes in our parish school system. I like to look at things in threes, and so you’ll see three big changes coming up this school year:
—And our campus safety plans
Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect:
In visiting with our community, I keep hearing the same message over and over again. “We need to change the culture of our school system.” That’s a tall order, friends. For starters, what does that even mean? An organizational culture is a system of shared beliefs that governs how people behave in an organization. It’s about shared values that influence people in a group and those values dictate how they act, how they dress, and even how they perform their jobs.
From my perspective, everyone in the school system, whether an employee, a parent, or a child, has a role to perform in our district. So for me, the way we change our culture is to set a standard for what we want to see among all of us—values and beliefs that we all share and want to emulate. And thanks to your input, we’ve found three things that you want to see as the culture of our parish.
This year we will be introducing this new culture, and it really is as simple as being our best. This year we will focus on three critical areas:
Each and every one of us can emulate these goals. We can treat others with respect. We are compassionate and caring to everyone around us. And above all, we instill GREATNESS not only in ourselves but in everyone we meet in the course of our day.
Look for more on our culture change in the coming weeks.
Our team has been diligently looking at our overall standardized test scores from this past year. Honestly, there’s good news and there’s bad news. In the world of standardized testing, “mastery” is the new goal, and the bad news is that only about a quarter of our students in Tangipahoa are at grade-level mastery scores or higher. Those scores are simply not good enough whether your child is advancing to the next grade, moving up to middle school, junior, or high school, and those scores won’t help our students successfully transition to wherever they want to go after graduation.
Now some good news! Our team has found a simple fix for a very complex problem. In the past, we’ve used a Tier III curriculum. It’s a good basic curriculum. But Tier III isn’t even close to the materials our students need to pass rigorous testing and advance successfully from grade to grade. What our students need—and we are implementing it this fall—is a strong Tier I curriculum that puts our students on the level playing field they need to succeed. I’ve compared it to playing sports. As a high school student, you want to play the best, not the kids in middle school or junior high. That’s the way you make it to the championships. Well, our kids haven’t been on a fair playing field using a Tier III curriculum.
So what does that mean? First of all, we are rolling out a new series of Math textbooks. The program is called “Eureka,” and it’s absolutely one of the top two math programs available in the U.S. This math sharpens our children’s minds. It pushes them to think outside the box and learn not just memorized facts but the “why” and the “how” math concepts work. If your child has been in a Montessori-style math program, you’ll see similarities in how the concepts are taught. If your child hasn’t been exposed to that teaching style, that’s ok, too. There is a learning curve but your child is going to catch on and be better prepared than ever before in math. Some students will be discouraged because it’s a tougher curriculum. Some may even see their grades dip a little compared to their previous success on the Tier 3 curriculum. That’s to be expected. This is much tougher, much more comprehensive math series.
Our teachers spent the end of last spring and all of this summer learning this math program which will be implemented system wide. Our goal is simple—to help your child be his or her best. As always, YOU play the most critical role in making this happen. Help us encourage your child by letting him or her know that they are absolutely capable of doing this work. Our teachers are here to support them, and we’re going to be providing parent guides on our website to help you help your child at home. In addition, I’m working with a number of our community partners to offer “tune up” classes where you can stop by and get a quick tutorial on how to help your child with this math series.
We’re going to share a lot more info on Eureka with you in coming weeks. I am confident this is going to be one of the key moves we’ll be able to look back on and recognize as a chief catalyst in our students’ success. Stay tuned!
As I’ve traveled the parish, one key area of concern has been school safety. Our principals are keenly aware of this need as well, and as a result, it was one of the key subjects we discussed during our meetings last week in Hammond. One of our key takeaways from those discussions is that we have issued a directive to every school in our parish. Every school will take part in a real-time active shooter drill on their campus before the close of the fall semester. Our Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office stands ready to work with us side-by-side in completing this goal, and our local police departments and Louisiana State Police have been invaluable in helping our schools tweak their current safety plans. The active shooter drills will take place on days and times when our students are not on campus, but we intend to let the public know in advance so that there is no confusion or misinformation about enhanced emergency presence on our campuses.
Additionally, our employees are leading the charge for school safety, and I’m proud to see the research and outside-of-the-box thinking that’s going into our campus safety plans. Our district’s administrator at large Dr. Beth Moulds is leading our safety effort, and I have no doubt that through her contacts with law enforcement and state agencies, she will lead us to create schools that are safe and policies that will put security of our students, faculties, and employees at the forefront.
A side note on school safety—something the experts are telling us is something we all know. It takes positive communication to discern threats in our schools. Just as we are reaching out to you to share what’s going on in our schools, we invite you and your children to reach out to us when you hear something we need to know about our schools. It’s a must in keeping each and everyone of us safe.
As always, our doors are always open to you. If you have questions for me, don’t hesitate to call my office at (985) 748-2502 or email me directly at Melissa.Stilley@tangischools.org. We will continue to share updates on happenings in our schools with you throughout this school year, and we invite you to come be a part of the changes taking place in our Tangipahoa Parish School System.
This is going to be an excellent year, and I can’t wait to see what we will do together to help our students succeed!
Reflecting on My 1st MonthPosted by Melissa Stilley on 7/18/2018
Can you feel the excitement?
I cannot believe this week marks the end of my first month as your new School Superintendent! The last 30 days represent some of the most exhilarating work of my entire career, as I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to reach out to so many people who share the same vision for our school system. Today, more than ever before, I can confidently tell you that all of us want the children of this parish to have every opportunity to receive the highest quality education we can offer.
We all want our children to be successful.
Success. It’s a word I’ve heard over and over again in my hundreds of meetings over the last four and a half weeks on the job. From one end of this parish to the other, everyone wants our school system to be successful, and that makes me excited to go work each and every day!
In these first few days on the job, I’ve heard from thousands of our residents. Literally, thousands! From Kentwood to Manchac and all points in between, you have shared your stories about your experiences with the public school system, and for that, I sincerely thank you! I’ve also met with groups who openly told me that for whatever reason, they shied away from working with our school system in the past, but they want to work with us now. Exciting! I’ve also met with groups who have never met with school system leaders in the past, but they welcomed me to the table with open arms. We are now entering into a dialogue with these groups, and I am so hopeful that this new level of communication will open more doors for our district in the future.
Talk about exciting!
As this first month comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for being so kind and welcoming in these opening days of my term. Thank you for being willing to visit with me, sharing your experiences with me, and being open to talk about ways that we can do more for our children. I want to give a shout out to our school system employees who are in the middle of their off-time but still found time to come visit with me at our various Coffee Talk events around the parish (we still have three more on the books as I write this, so please come out and see me, if you are able!) I also want to thank our Central Office team who have been so supportive and helpful getting me settled in over the last few weeks. Thank you for taking time out of your busy back-to-school preparations to work with me and share your vision for how we can move forward in our school system. I also owe a huge THANK YOU to my secretary, Mrs. Crowe, who has juggled my schedule and helped me balance hundreds of meetings in just a few short weeks! This lady is a rock star! I couldn’t do it without her. I also owe many, many thanks to my family for being so supportive! They are my rock, and I could do none of this without their love and support.
Finally, I thank all of you! Thank you for your feedback. Thank you for your prayers and your support.
It is an exciting time, and as I write this, we are counting down to our first day of school, which is Aug. 9. If you need information on how to register your child, check out our website, www.tangischools.org. There you’ll find a wealth of information on preparations for the first day of class. You’ll also find school supply lists, uniform information, and a list of our back-to-school meet and greets and open house events. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!
As always, I am here for you and your children. My door is always open and I invite you to reach out and share your concerns anytime. My email is Melissa.Stilley@tangischools.org, and my office number is (985) 748-2502. Thank you for trusting in me, and thank you for trusting us with your children.
Melissa M. Stilley
Tangipahoa Parish School System
My 1st Week in OfficePosted by Melissa Stilley on 6/28/2018
Today is my 7th day as Superintendent, and I can’t believe my first week has already come and gone! In many ways, I keep pinching myself as a reminder that this is real and that I am truly back home doing the work I love! Thank you to the Board for having the confidence in me to make this dream come true!
So what have we been doing? I’m proud to say that I hit the ground running last week, meeting with teachers, administrators, our support workers, and lots and lots of people like you who offered kind words and suggestions for how we move forward from here. I think the comment that most touched my heart came from a mom, who like some of you, may have lost faith in our schools for whatever reason. She said that after a lot of consideration and soul-searching, she transferred her child to a non-public school, and she told me that she was so happy that I took the time to visit with her because she “didn’t know if her voice still mattered” in our school system.
Not only does her voice matter—it’s critical to moving our district forward. All of our voices must be heard!
As I move across the parish, I keep hearing the same message. Our people want to believe in our public schools again. They want the very best for our children. And these students are all our children.
More than just that, the public wants the school system to connect with the community. They want to build a relationship. They want to be heard.
I’ve recently met with our transitional team, and they offered the same sentiments and the same wants and needs that I’m hearing every day in the community. Additionally, we talked about building a safe place where everyone can come to the table and where everyone will want to be part of the success we are planning for our schools. We want you to take ownership in our school system, and we are going to enter into a longstanding dialogue with YOU to make that happen.
How can you help us right now? Reach out and let us know your concerns. If you see something we are doing well, let us know, and if there’s something we need to do better, please share that with me, too. As Parish President Robby Miller says, we want to be the very best, and I can’t do that without your help.
In the coming days, we are starting a listening tour of sorts across the parish. I’ll be having Friday morning “Coffee Talks” in locations across Tangipahoa, and we’ll start this Friday, June 29, at the Amite Chamber of Commerce. We’ll be there from 8-10 a.m., and I invite you to stop by and visit with me, share your concerns, and offer us ways that we can make our parish school system better.
If you can’t make it to this week’s visit, make plans to join us at a future Coffee Talk. I’ll be sure to post the schedule at the bottom of this page.
As always, I’m here for you and your children. Feel free to email me at Melissa.Stilley@tangischools.orgor message me on social media. I want to hear from you, and I value your input.
Melissa M. Stilley
A Message to TPSS Faculty and StaffPosted by Melissa Stilley on 6/21/2018
I am so honored to serve as your new superintendent! To me, this isn’t just a new start - it’s a new day in our Tangipahoa Parish School System. It is great to be back in my home parish again!
I started my first day in this district working side-by-side with our professional development team. I saw great enthusiasm, a spirit of willingness to work together, and tremendous excitement about what we can do if we all focus our energy on that which matters most and that is improving the lives of our parish’s children. I’ve heard it time and time again. We all want to make a difference, and together, WE CAN!
Oh, the places we will go! I’m excited about this adventure, and I’m looking forward to speaking with each of you in the coming days. We are going to do great things together, and I am so happy to be a part of this team. You inspire me, and your determination makes me want to work even harder.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be holding several opportunities for us to get together and chat. These listening sessions and coffee talk dates will be open and available to you, so please make plans to come see me and let’s visit!
I want to thank you for your encouragement, and I thank you for your prayers. If I can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your support - I have no doubt we will do great things together for the children of Tangipahoa Parish!
Melissa M. Stilley