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Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

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New superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson finishes listening tour

The six-month-long tour provided insight from students, staff and community members about the district
By Emma Clement
Addressing the student advisory board, district superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson explains the results of his listening tour Tuesday, Nov. 28. Gibson met with the same students as part of his listening tour in September to hear their perspective. “It has certainly resonated with a lot of people and as a result, I think we have a duty and responsibility to act on some of these things,” Gibson said.

New superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson set out on a listening tour in April to introduce himself and learn about district perspectives. The six-month-long tour concluded in October, and Gibson has now begun to create action plans based on what he heard.

For Gibson, getting to know the district is vital for a new superintendent to do as early as possible. His listening tour intended to accomplish just that.

I think it’s mission critical for any new leader to walk into an organization and really understand where they’re at. The only way you can do that is by listening to all voices.

— Superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson

“I think it’s mission critical for any new leader to walk into an organization and really understand where they’re at,” Gibson said. “The only way you can do that is by listening to all voices.”

Gibson’s tour included meetings with building and district administrators, De Soto Teacher Association leaders, teachers and staff, board of education members, surrounding community members and councils, parent SITE councils and the student advisory board. Gibson described the most common answers he heard when asking about district strengths. 

“I literally had over 1,000 individual words used to describe the district,” Gibson said. “The ones that are most common were there’s a sense of family, we’re a growing and successful district, we are innovative, and we believe in excellence, so those just confirmed what I already knew about the district.”

However, according to Gibson, one of the most illuminating parts of the tour was what he learned about the district’s weaknesses. Areas of growth he identified included communication, collaboration, connections, expanded opportunities for students, mental health/behavior support and professional development.

“The one that came out on top is professional development for our staff,” Gibson said. “[It is about] making it meaningful and [providing] things they can use in their classroom the next day to support students and their growth, but it also went into how we can better train our custodians, our food service brokers.”

Senior Lucy Roy, one of the student advisory board members who participated in the tour, said conversations about expanded opportunities for students also came up frequently.

By Emma Clement

“We talked a lot about providing lots of opportunities for students, so that kind of went with the CTEC building and developing that more and providing more classes and opportunities for students to take classes at CTEC,” Roy said. “That was a big thing that it seems like Dr. Gibson is hoping to develop while being here.”

Roy met Gibson this year at a student advisory board meeting, and believes he has brought passion to the district.

“[Gibson] seems super passionate about making our school district a good place to be at,” Roy said. “I like all the ideas and the things that he has planned for our district.”

Chamber of Commerce director Ann Smith-Tate, one of the community members Gibson spoke with, agreed with Roy.

“He understands that the school district is a huge part of this community, and he wants us to all be working together towards the same goals of educating and creating a great community that starts with our schools and who’s coming out of them,” Smith-Tate said.

Smith-Tate specifically admired that Gibson took time out of his schedule to talk to his community one-on-one.

“[Gibson] was curious about the history of our relationship as far as how we had worked in the past with USD 232 and any ideas I might have for the future,” Smith-Tate said. “I love that he took so much time to hear from us and many different sectors in the community. It takes a lot of time to schedule the meetings to get the calendars coordinated.”

Elaborating on Smith-Tate’s ideas, Roy appreciated how Gibson made the participants feel valued.

“We were able to voice our opinions and it wasn’t like there was a right answer at any point, so we were just able to say exactly how we felt and weren’t judged,” Roy said.

District superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson listens in on a student conversation about the results of his listening tour Tuesday, Nov. 28. The Student Advisory Board, which is composed of students from both De Soto and Mill Valley, then shared their input with Gibson. (By Emma Clement)

For Gibson, taking the time to engage was truly a priority. He explains the benefits the tour had in terms of connections and culture.

“I truly am just sitting on the sidelines literally in some cases but figuratively and others,” Gibson said. “All I’m doing is trying to engage and listen because there is a lot you can just get a sense of when it comes to culture, so just being out there a lot and making those connections has given me some opportunities beyond just the listening tour.”

Even further than learning the culture and making connections, Gibson also made it a goal to get to know the people themselves.

“Part of [the tour,] of course, is not just learning the perceptions of others, but really getting to know who the people are,” Gibson said.

Though the tour’s goal was just to get to know the district, now that it has concluded, Gibson is eager to begin solving some of the identified problems. 

“My intent was just to get to know people and hear what their perceptions were of the district. However, now that I have some information it might be the right time to turn some of these into action plans.” Gibson said. “It has certainly resonated with a lot of people and as a result, I think we have a duty and responsibility to act on some of these things.”

Ava Bittner
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About the Contributors
Emma Clement
Emma Clement, JagWire editor-in-chief, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief
This is senior Emma Clement’s third year on the JagWire staff. This year she is JagWire and Mill Valley News editor-in-chief, in addition to being a writer and designer for the newspaper. When she is not working on journalism, Emma enjoys reading, drawing, painting, watching TV shows and spending time with friends and family. She is also involved at Mill Valley as NHS president, Spanish NHS vice president, Youth for Refugees president, Model UN president, NAHS vice president and is a member of NEHS, Scholar’s Bowl and Women’s Empowerment Club. Outside of school, Emma works at Pinnacle Gymnastics as a gymnastics coach and is on the editorial board for elementia, the Johnson County Library’s teen literary magazine.
Madelyn Mulryan
Madelyn Mulryan, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Madelyn Mulryan’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is exploring all roles for newspaper but especially writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music, spending quality time with friends and binge-watching shows. Maddie is involved in Youth for Refugees, Women’s Empowerment, Model UN and Debate. She is excited to make this year of newspaper great!

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