May ’18 Letter

May 16, 2018 – For a glimpse of how I think, this is a letter to parents and staff regarding the principal search, now completed.

———- Forwarded message ———
Date: Wed, May 16, 2018 at 3:53 PM
Subject: School Vision and New Principal Search – one parent’s perspective
Dear Parents, Staff, and Community Members,

I’m new to this community, with two children in the pre-k program and a third joining next year.  As such, I’m hesitant to reach out to you all so directly. Please excuse my audacity for doing so.  

However, given Jason’s April 24th resignation, we are now obviously faced with the most important decision a school community makes, if they’re lucky, once a decade.

And yet, while intentions are good, and we are indeed late in the school year hiring cycle, I feel the process around this major decision is moving too fast and we’re not putting our best collective foot forward.  More importantly, it seems we are missing the full opportunity to bring the entire school community together around this crucial hiring decision – right from the beginning of the process.

Hiring a principal should be a very big deal.  It is a time to hear from anyone (staff, parents, the wider community) who cares about the outcome.  It is an opportunity to heal old wounds and begin anew.  It is a time to reflect on what has worked well in the past, and perhaps, more importantly, an ideal time to demonstrate our adult growth mindsets, by acknowledging our past mistakes, discussing them, and learning from them – a key skill we all strive to teach the children.  The best schools are widely inclusive, learning organizations.

Today at 5pm there is a special board meeting where the school board will review the hiring process for a new principal.  It is open to all so if the short notice doesn’t prevent you from attending, I encourage you to.  If childcare is a challenge, we have two young friends in town (one is a music teacher) who will be hanging around campus and are happy to help watch kids.

The new leader of the school will have a big impact on all of our lives, and those of the children.  I hope we can thoughtfully work together to fine tune a vision for the school and for the type of person we want to lead it.

To help jumpstart a collaborative conversation among us all, I’m including a link to a discussion tool, called Loomio, that a few of us have been trying out. It was originally created in New Zealand to help the organizers of the 2011 Occupy Movement brainstorm, coordinate, and stay in sync.  It has since been adopted by thousands of citizen groups, municipalities, and companies to help teams of busy people, in different locations, and with differing schedules, work together on matters of importance.

Loomio’s greatest strength is that it allows people to think and deliberate about something when they have the time to do so.  It also tends to build consensus and community as you can see everyone’s views and opinions in real-time.  You can change your views as other’s thinking impacts your own. The wisdom of the crowd often emerges and prevails, with everyone understanding how we got there.  Over time, using Loomio results in far fewer emails and messages and more free time for everyone.

You can join our “Bolinas-Stinson – Education Focused Discussion Group” here:

If you have any questions about Loomio or anything else you’d like to connect with me about, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Here’s an overview of Loomio:

Please also forward this email to anyone you think would be interested in it, as I only have email addresses for those of you in our children’s grade (pre-k).  In addition to our school board, it might be great to get a more formal parents/staff/friends of school group going.  And lastly, apologies for not getting this email out sooner.


Steve O’Neal