Getting Settled as a Commissioner

The past several weeks have been eventful to say the least. At the Board of Education, I have started my service on the sub-committee meetings for Rules, Personnel & Labor and Curriculum. We have started to get a better picture of what the budget will look like for FY 2016-2017, and collectively there has been a growing focus on prioritizing salary increases for teachers as well as solutions to provide housing.

Beyond those collective goals, I heard several moving presentations from young people, educators and community groups that I believe require our immediate action. A few of those items include supporting our undocumented students, introducing Arabic and Vietnamese Language pathways in our elementary schools, expanding health education throughout middle schools,  and selecting our next Superintendent.

Outside of our board meetings, it’s a standard practice to visit school sites. I have started with a tour of 6-8 middle schools. After I finish with those sites, I will visit K-8 schools, elementary schools and complete my tour with high schools. Moving forward, I decided to use public transit when visiting school sites.

Growing up in San Francisco, public transit was 80% to 90% of how I got around the city. My grandparents would occasionally give me a ride, but MUNI was my sole source of transportation. Taking the bus reminds me of what it’s like to get around and all the things our students see and experience on their way to school. Also, for our low-income families that are making the sacrifice to commute across the city on the bus to send their student to a high performing school, it’s a rude awakening to the burden our families have to endure.

At the middle school level, I have started to hone in on school climate, math and grading policy. Thus far, I have visited A.P. Giannini, James Lick, Presidio, Visitacion Valley, Roosevelt and Marina Middle School. I couldn’t be more impressed with our students. They are hungry for information, incredibly kind, hyper aware of the issues that should be improved in their school community and want school to be a thriving learning environment.

I’m of the opinion that in order to really dive deep into this work, you have to love it. But taking time during the work day to work on items related to the Board of Education is tough as the CEO of an organization as young as Mission Bit.

I love the work I’m doing on the Board of Education. I find all of it absolutely fascinating.  I also love the impact we’re making at Mission Bit. The growth potential of Mission Bit across the San Francisco Bay Area is exciting. In addition, deepening my capacity as a leader to improve the quality of our work and helping develop my staff keeps me in constant study and conversation.

To accommodate both roles, my work schedule is Monday through Saturday. I made the intentional decision to reserve Sundays for church, family and rest. My body naturally wakes up around 5 am and my goal is to sleep by 10 pm, but when we have a long board meeting or I have a pressing deadline, I get to bed closer to midnight or 1 am. I have started to focus on meetings with district leadership or site visits that need to happen during the workweek to Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning. If we don’t have a board meeting during the week, I have been attending community meetings, events or political gatherings.

In the coming weeks, I am going to bring on two college students as interns to support my work at the Board of Education. One position will be focused on policy and the other on community engagement. In addition, I will be rolling out a calendar for Saturday office hours to meet with members of the public that would like to discuss a matter with me. My hope is to also put on a few town halls and forums to stay in conversation with members of the community about issues they care about most.

We have a lot of collective work to accomplish and my hope is that we will continue to advance that work together.