Message From Superintendent Barnes: Focus Forward

Dear Lakewood Families:

When we closed schools so abruptly last March, never did any of us think that we would be starting our new school year the same way we ended the last one. It is an unfortunate situation that we all must cope with and do our best to provide your children with the high quality education they deserve, despite the challenging circumstances. I know that Lakewood City Schools is up to that challenge.

Last March, our teachers were forced to abruptly switch their instruction to remote. This time around, our staff has had ample professional development in online instruction and will be much more familiar with the tech tools that were new to some staff last spring. 

As I think about the environment we are all living through, a recent article I read in School Administrator magazine comes to mind. The article talks about a concept I learned years ago at a leadership conference at the U.S. Army War College. It is a concept that reassures me that we as a school community will emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient. The concept is VUCA. It was developed by the military to describe the state of international affairs following the conclusion of the Cold War. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. We certainly are living in a VUCA world right now! There are strategies to survive and even thrive in times like today, and I believe that the foundation that our District and community is built on is one that can withstand the VUCA vortex.

Rising above the four components of VUCA takes a strong vision to weather the volatility, knowledge of your strengths to temper the uncertainty, courage to tackle the complexity of issues, and agility to manage the ambiguity. Our Vision of a Lakewood Graduate keeps our focus forward. Our faculty and staff and spirit of inclusivity are the strengths that will shepherd our students through. Our principals and Central Office administrators will continue to tackle the seemingly endless difficult issues that arise. Our Board of Education continues to provide the steady hand of leadership and support. And all of us must remain agile, flexible and adaptable in a time when the answers to the many questions are so ambiguous.

So I propose we flip the VUCA script and instead view it as an acronym for Vision, Understanding, Courage and Agility. Yes, we are in a VUCA environment, but it’s an environment that we will embrace and use to Focus Forward for the 2020-2021 school year.

Thank you for your enduring support and patience during these past months. I look forward to what the new school year will bring and to see what the connection between our staff and students will create. While this will be a very different school year, our commitment to your children’s well-being remains the same as always.


Dr. Michael Barnes, Superintendent

Lakewood City Schools

Volume 16, Issue 18, Posted 4:58 PM, 09.02.2020