Nearly 100 (work) days since he became Greendale superintendent, John Tharp last week presented a "state of the district" report on how his tenure has gone so far and his vision for the future.
To be sure, it's been a time of change in the Greendale School District, Tharp said, noting the change in district administrators as well as education reforms made at the state level.
During a "listening and learning" tour, he found both pride in the schools and a sense of uncertainty from parents about their kids' future.
"I've heard it loud and clear that a plan for the future is needed, and that's what I'm here to provide," Tharp said.
The community doesn't "want us to rest on our laurels. There has been a lot of success in the district ... but they also said they want necessary changes to help this next generation become independent and productive citizens of the 21st century."
Tharp identified accelerating academic achievement, improving communication, navigating education reform and technology as a few of his areas of focus in the months ahead.
He announced the creation of the Superintendent's Community Coalition, which he said will bring together diverse voices in the community to help him move the district forward.
"Folks who are interested, all you have to do is let me know. I'll seek you out, you seek me out," he said. "This can be a positive group that we share information, share ideas and make sure, from the top down, we stay engaged into the needs of the community."
On school safety, Tharp said it's important that staff members feel safe so they can "take the chance to really push the envelope—within reason, of course— to really advance the curriculum in the classrooms."
"We have to have those conditions in our schools and in our buildings," he said.
Prior to coming to Greendale, Tharp was a high school teacher, administrator and most recently an assistant superintendent for middle and high schools in Williamson County, Tennessee.
He began his Greendale duties in September. He said the challenges facing the district "aren't for the faint of heart," but the community must move forward together.
"We need to stop some of the unpleasantries," Tharp said, "and pull up and meet the demands that our students need us to do."