2020-2021 Superintendents to Watch: Dr. Jenny McGown

Dr. Jenny McGown

Dr. Jenny McGown

Superintendent 
Klein (Texas) Independent School District
Twitter: @jenny_mcgown @KleinISD

 

What does leadership mean to you?

I believe in practicing the habit of gratitude in everything that I do and sharing it with those around me. This extends to meaningful leadership that focuses on taking good care of the people who are serving students to ensure an excellent learning experience. Leading with a servant’s heart and lifting others up to realize their potential is the definition of leadership for me. I believe in extending grace, failing forward to learn from mistakes and empowering every member of the Klein Family to “lead from their seat” regardless of whether they are employees or students. Fostering a culture of leadership and being of service to others is what makes our community a beautiful place to call home. We are all afforded the privilege of being a pivotal part of a child’s educational journey to ensure they exit with a purpose and fulfill their goals and aspirations.

How have you integrated communication into your district’s strategic plan?

One of our strategic priorities is to Build Community because these relationships engage, educate and equip our families so that every child in our care exits with a promise for a bright future with every opportunity open. With a beautifully diverse community, we continue to focus on ways to communicate and equip families with tools and resources that are culturally responsive and relevant to their needs. We emphasize engaging in open, honest, two-way communication as well as acting upon family satisfaction survey results to continuously improve our efforts for excellent and equitable outcomes for students. Additionally, we strive to make information available to our community and eliminate barriers that keep families from becoming more involved in their children’s education. To that end, in addition to family engagement opportunities that take place in person, we utilize virtual tools such as Facebook Live events that can be accessed from anywhere at any time.

What communication initiative are you most proud of that have you implemented in your district?

I’m proud of establishing the Klein Leadership Coalition (KLC), a team of key influencers in our Klein community that includes Board of Trustees members, community leaders, parents, educators, business owners, clergy and district leadership. These groups have a vested interest in the success of EVERY student in Klein ISD and supporting public education. The KLC team serves as communicators and advisers on focus areas of the district and legislative priorities. Members are actively engaged in monthly, face-to-face meetings, social media and community engagement opportunities to help the district continue its work by building a network of informed and active supporters. The KLC’s mission is to:

  •  Learn how Klein ISD is working to fulfill its promise to our students;
  • Share key information about district happenings to keep the community well-informed ; and 
  • Communicate that a strong public school district keeps Klein a great place to live and learn.

What communication tool  do you enjoy using the most in your profession? Why?

We use a variety of communications tools to engage stakeholders, including videos, community and employee updates, Facebook Live and comprehensive websites. However, my favorite is face-to-face engagements, so that I have the opportunity to meet people and engage in a dialogue with members of our community. Although I regularly attend campus and department faculty meetings across the district, it is a joy to celebrate and honor staff by devoting my first week of each school year to visiting all 50 campuses and every department to extend my gratitude to them for their unwavering service to our students. I enjoy meeting with students, families and community members to hear their perspectives, and this is done frequently through school community events such as athletic, fine arts, academic and other student events. Being involved directly in the things that bring joy and excitement to families for their students is a meaningful experience for me.

How have you used social media in your strategic communication efforts?

I regularly use social media to engage with our community; however, through our family satisfaction surveys, we know that direct campus communication is crucial in building a strong connection with our families. To ensure that families are engaged, the district created a one-stop-shop for campuses to share their stories with their own school communities. Through their blogs and accompanying RSS feeds, campuses can post in one place, and that post is then replicated on their campus webpage as well as their social media accounts. Soon, they will be able to add their Remind accounts to this process. We have seen a huge increase in engagement using this innovative tactic, and campuses are able to easily keep their website content current. The two-way interaction on our social platforms has increased.  Since these posts are translated into individuals’ chosen languages, it helps eliminate obstacles for families to be more involved in their child’s education.