Leadership by Listening: Year in Review
06/29/16 9:41am
By: Cletisha Lovelace

                                              NEWS RELEASE
  Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent
                                                                 Kenita Bowers, Director of Communications & Media Relations
                                                                              Public Information Office: 804-780-7100


For Immediate Release
June 29, 2016

Richmond Public Schools fulfills promise of Leadership by Listening Initiative

RICHMOND, Va. –The 2015–2016 school year was the year of increased community engagement in Richmond Public Schools (RPS).

As part of Superintendent Dana T. Bedden’s philosophy of leadership by listening, Richmond Public Schools had more than 10,000 community interactions this school year — giving parents, employees, students and community members a voice in planning a successful future for RPS.

“We believe in the power of two-way engagement,” Dr. Bedden said. “That’s not only listening to what our community members have to say, but using their feedback to improve our school district. We went down this path to really find out how people feel, what they think, and what they think should happen in our district,” Bedden said.

This school year, RPS provided several opportunities for community input, including student engagement, employee engagement and community surveys. A fourth internal satisfaction survey is scheduled for this summer. In addition, the division welcomed comments and questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week via its online communication resource, Let’s Talk!

Dr. Bedden noted that parent engagement saw a tremendous increase this year, and that, overall, parents were more pleased with their child’s school than anecdotal comments would suggest.

“Through these surveys we identified not only our strengths and opportunities for improvement, but also what people don’t know — where we need to do a better job of communicating and getting people the information they need.”

Bedden and his leadership team were pleased to learn that students overwhelmingly believe they have an adult at school who cares about them. That means students can get a sense of comfort and stability in school, which can translate to higher academic achievement, Bedden said.

“Students who have made personal connections tend to want to come to school and stay in school,” he said. “This shows what a great staff we have and how they can make a difference in a child’s life.”

In addition, this year’s engagements showed that the community believes the division sets high learning standards, and that students are learning a lot in their classes. But the feedback also identified where RPS should do more.

While the district has more than 100 community and business partners — 112 as of the end of the school year — community members and parents continued to say RPS should better leverage community organizations. “We need to do a better job sharing who our partners are and how they serve the division and our students,” Bedden said.

Stakeholder feedback also showed that the division needs to continue its efforts to improve instruction and make it relevant for students, and the community continues to view improved facilities as a priority. Bedden noted the district recently adopted a facilities master plan and will continue to pursue increased funding for maintenance and capital improvements.

“We need to have an honest conversation about our true needs,” he said. “We will continue to advocate for additional teacher and building resources.”

All of the feedback will shape the district’s conversations with building administrators this summer, Bedden said. Student feedback will guide instructional and professional development improvements, employee feedback will inform improvements to each school’s working environment, and parent and community feedback will help improve each school’s relationship with the families and communities it serves.

“More than just talking about public engagement, we actually use our stakeholder’s feedback to drive positive change in our schools and across the division,” Bedden said. “I hope our community sees those efforts, and realizes we truly value what they have to say.”

To learn more about this year’s engagement efforts, visit the district’s YourVoice page at To start a conversation with the district on any topic, visit Let’s Talk! at

To view the results of our Leadership by Listening efforts, visit the following links:

Community Perspectives Survey
Student Engagement Survey
Year in Review





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