Superintendent Terry Grier welcomed principals back to work today with a rousing speech that doubled as an explanation of his plans to leave for Houston. Hundreds of principals and managers packed into the auditorium at Kearny High School to hear Grier speak, part of a day packed with training and announcements before school begins for San Diego Unified in two weeks.

“They called me. And they called. And they called back,” Grier said of Houston, echoing earlier comments he made to reporters and the school board about being heavily courted for the Texas job. He later added, “Without question, you are some of the finest, most dedicated educators I’ve ever known. … I will continue to be your friend, your strong supporter.”

Grier and the top leaders at San Diego Unified touched on several points this morning:

  • Avoiding “brain lock:” doing the same thing over and over out of habit. Principals watched an animated video called “The Calf Path” that tells the story of people building a winding road just because a calf happened to walk that path hundreds of years ago. Grier also encouraged them that while it has been a stormy year full of budget woes, they need to learn to “dance in the rain” — acting creatively despite the obstacles. “It doesn’t have to be the same dance,” Grier said, “but dance it must be.”
  • Accentuating the positive. Grier touted the increases in test scores, the expansion of Advanced Placement classes and the ability for students to gain credits through online classes, known as credit recovery. More than 4,500 classes were retaken and passed through credit recovery last year. He also talked up the new technology coming into classrooms through the facilities bond.
  • Grier said that San Diego Unified still needs to find a way to encourage its best teachers to teach in schools with the neediest students. When Ronald Reagan was shot, he said, nobody tried to get a doctor on call to treat him. They airlifted him to the best emergency doctors. By the same tack, schools should be linking their top talent to their struggling students, Grier said.
  • Other tidbits: A new logo for San Diego Unified that will slowly replace the old one as old papers and binders go out of use. And another inspirational slideshow set to “Eye of the Tiger.”

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