“Pushing the Edge” by Glenn Mangurian: Back to School (with Safety and Patience)

"Pushing the Edge" by Glenn Mangurian is the newest regular column in the Hingham Anchor. You can learn more about the author below.  

August 28, 2020 by Glenn Mangurian

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Students are stocking up on supplies – pens, notebooks, backpacks and, this year, masks. Over 50 million American students are preparing to attend grades K-12 with over 4,300 of them in Hingham. All school districts across the country are grappling with the challenges of providing quality education while protecting the health of students, faculty and staff. This is no small task. Many administrators have worked to “thread the needle” to find an appropriate balance. It is difficult to “thread the needle” in a stable environment but in this environment, the needle keeps moving.

Many Hingham school leaders have worked long hours to develop the town education plan for this school year. Hingham will launch its four phase plan gradually. Schools will start phase one remotely but will quickly move to hybrid learning – part in-class and part remote.

It is important to recognize that no plan is perfect and implementation will not go as expected. Issues will arise during implementation. These are not failures of planning but rather normal implementation challenges in this unusual environment. It is just not possible to anticipate all that might not go as planned especially in a dynamic environment such as this health crisis. Feedback, quick response and contingency planning are important. Some will argue that implementation issues are a result of poor planning. Others may argue that implementation problems are the result of poor execution. Neither of these views is generally true.  A plan is a direction and intention and not a prediction of future events. Let’s be clear. Execution will be difficult.

Parents will always advocate for what they believe are the interests of their children. While students and parents are “customers” of the Hingham education system, during the pandemic they are also teammates working to create student success and maintain health for all. Parents can provide important feedback on what is working and what needs attention. Quick feedback is essential to address the myriad of issues that will arise. Patience, civility and transparency are important.

We are fortunate to live in a community of committed parents, dedicated teachers and diligent administrators.  Working together we can maximize the amount of time students will spend in school while minimizing the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community.

In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.

Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: glenn@glennmangurian.com

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