2020-2021 Superintendents to Watch: Tracy Wheeler

Tracy Wheeler

Tracy Wheeler  

Superintendent
Berea (Ohio) City School District
Twitter: @BCSDWheeler @BereaCSD

 

What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is creating a vision and being able to translate it into reality by involving all stakeholders in the process.  Leadership is empowering others to take risks, make mistakes and grow, so they can become leaders themselves.  Leadership is building a strong sense of community; one where teachers feel supported and understand the importance of building strong relationships with their students and families, one where students are empowered and encouraged to learn and grow, and one where parents feel welcomed, valued and viewed as true partners in the district. 

How have you integrated communication into your district’s strategic plan?
One goal of our strategic plan is to promote an environment of open and transparent communication designed to maintain trust and credibility among district staff members, parents, community partners, residents and future district residents. The implementation strategy that I have made a district initiative is strengthening regular two-way communication with the Berea City School District Community.  Much of my focus my first year included a "Listen and Learn" tour to learn more about the district.  It is important for me to allow for that two-way communication in order for our stakeholders to feel that they are being heard.  Especially this year during the pandemic, now more than ever, the focus on two-way communication has been valuable and necessary.

What communication initiative are you most proud of that have you implemented in your district?
It was very important for me to hear from stakeholders, so I started my year conducting a Listen and Learn Tour during the first 100 days in order to develop a general understanding of the district, to establish a presence in the communities that make up our district, to be visible at events and to examine the critical issues in the schools and community.  I held meetings with key stakeholder groups such as board members, building principals, union leadership, parent groups and government officials. That was followed by face-to-face meetings with staff in all six of our buildings, surveys for staff and families and Coffee with the Superintendent where people from the community could come to meet me, my executive team and to ask questions.  In January 2020, I did a presentation to the Board of Education to share with them what I learned from my Listen and Learn Tour.

What communication tool do you enjoy using the most in your profession? Why?
When I came to the district, the leadership had not used social media to promote the district.  I use Twitter  in order to connect with the community and promote all of the good things that are going on in the district.  I started promoting the district using the hashtag #BeATitan, and now all of the district social media accounts use this hashtag when they tweet. Twitter is a great place to learn and grow with other like-minded professionals. I use my Twitter account,@BCSDWheeler,  to promote the upcoming events, share great news stories and to retweet the amazing things our teachers, administrators and coaches are doing with and for our kids on a daily basis.

How have you used social media in your strategic communication efforts?
I believe that it is important for us, as education leaders, to tell the story about what is going on in our district. Too many times, the negative "chatter" on social media from people who are not happy with the district drowns out all of the good things that are going on. I stress to our administrators and staff that it is important for them to have a voice on social media to tell our story.  So, as much as we can, we use social media to push out all of the good things that are happening in our schools.