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Imagine me showing up to your home or business for the first time to discuss a very important matter with implications that will effect the entire community. I don’t know about you but that would seem like a pretty awkward moment for me. In education, we always say relationships matter. Trust me, relationships really do matter. When you have a prior positive relationship with individuals in the community, it becomes a lot easier to resolve issues and work through those difficult moments. That relationship requires being proactive in ensuring the community is kept informed of your thoughts and how you process information to make a decision. Relationships gives the community purpose and a voice when impactful decisions need to be made. We all can benefit from building better relationships throughout the community by getting to know people on the other side of the discussion.

We struggle to be transparent when it comes to making decisions about the future of our kids. This struggle plays out in the face of the public as angry and confrontational and that only divides us further. When we are not transparent and fail to communicate with the members of the community, they feel left out and their voices silenced. That will only result in the community becoming upset and continued erosion of the community’s confidence in Bladen County’s public education system. Building relationships is pretty easy to do but it takes having a purposeful intent to reach out to individuals you ordinary may not spend time talking too. Being an effective leader starts with setting the example you want those that follow your emulate. Leaders are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and begin those conversations even with the most so called difficult parents. That, my friends is calculated and purposeful leadership and that’s how you build relationships one person at a time.

Communicating openly and honestly with the community only strengthens our bond as a community. True transparency is a management approach in which all decision making is carried out in public. It is an approach that encourages open access to information, participation, and decision making, which ultimately creates a higher level of trust among stakeholders. Making draft documents, arguments for and against a proposal, the decisions about the decision-making process itself, and all final decisions accessible to the public will help restore the community confidence in our school system.
The key step in the entire process is having those open discussions prior to any decision being made and at the end of the discussion a decision should be rendered and justification to support the decision should be shared. This requires stating the facts as we know them without having a personal agenda.

One thing I learned and love about our community is when you talk to people you build strong relationships and whether they agree or not with your decision they will offer their support as much as possible. That support is rooted in a solid trust from prior decision making and respect for each other. Building relationships through communication sends a strong message to the entire community that we must and we want to work together. This relationship building just cannot shouldered by the teachers, lord knows we have already piled enough on their shoulders and we continue to do so.

Trey Johnson

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