A Message From Dr. Bell  

August 15, 2016
I had an epiphany after fifteen years of faithful attendance at the Association of Educational Service Agencies Summer Leadership Conference. The clouds parted for me and a bright light filtered through to my foggy brain during a discussion of what Educational Service Agencies were doing to meet the challenge of the work matters culture. The catalyst was a presentation by Lisa Wilson from the Grant Wood Iowa Area Educational Agency. Her session centered on the topic of why millennials don’t eat cereal for breakfast.  

I have studied generational differences in the past in hopes of creating a high functioning work culture at ESU 10 which would better allow us “to partner with stakeholders to meet changing needs through professional expertise in providing services, learning opportunities and support.” Lisa’s description of the generational differences and the fact that each generation coming in repudiates the generation in charge helped me to better understand why I am so conflicted concerning this topic. After listening to the key characteristics of each generation group I have discovered that I am a Millennial Cusper Gen X in a Boomer body! No wonder I am so confused. It’s either amazing that the doors stay open at ESU 10 with me in charge or it is a contributing reason why this place is such a nimble example of excellence. You be the judge.

This same event held in Seattle also mentioned the ESU 10 Flexible Classroom. We consort with other ESAs around the country as we continue to develop this model space for personalized learning. It is exciting to see what our peers around the country are creating. Many of their ideas will be implemented into our site as we continue to modify and improve our learning space.

We were also able to listen to two businesses on how they create a culture that attracts, develops and keeps top talent.  Representatives from Alaskan Airlines and PEMCO, a mutual insurance company, addressed conference attendees.  It’s always good to compare and contrast how public and private entities function. The two main things that I remembered from Alaskan Airlines was to treat employees as customers and to always discover the root causes for staff perceptions. PEMCO focused on an evolving performance culture. They have staff try to describe their organizational culture in 5 words. Two things I like that may soon haunt the ESU 10 staff at the August All Staff Meeting is to have them identify three things they do each day to reinforce our culture. Then identify 3-5 cultural ambassadors at ESU 10 who embody exactly what we want in this organization. This could be a very interesting activity.  

So, as you can probably guess, there has been very little idle time at ESU 10 this summer. Thousands of people attended in-service opportunities and staff has been on the road for weeks doing network and infrastructure maintenance. Various staff members have been off and about at trainings to help them become experts in their fields. Budgets have been formulated to best facilitate the program of services and excellent staff have been hired to make things function at a high level.  

We are ready to serve you. Welcome back to another exciting school year.