Message from Dr. Finch
Muhammad Ali, Steffi Graf, Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, Annika Sorenstam, Johnny Unitas, and… Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD)? What do the above have in common? Relentless pursuit of greatness! Each of these legends had help along the way, made calculated decisions, and were dedicated to their craft. The Good to Great (G2G) series of business books has organizational principles that DVUSD uses in its own pursuit of greatness. The work by Stanford Professor Jim Collins and his research team is a chronological march through the Great Recession of 2008 and the rise and fall of similar companies. The premise of the books is to look back at several comparative 100-year-old companies like Walmart and K-Mart, or Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and discern the influential traits of those who stayed “good” and those who became “great.” The seven principles discovered were eventually expounded upon in a G2G Social Sectors supplementary book – schools, hospitals, foundations, etc. are not businesses, but share some of the same characteristics. Three additional books in the series include Built to Last, Great by Choice, and How the Mighty Fall.
A key concept in the Social Sectors addition is the importance of collecting a “body of evidence” to make good decisions and evaluate progress. In the business world, profit and stock price are indicators of success, but not in the social sectors. DVUSD’s best data comes from comparing ourselves to similar AZ public school institutions such as Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria, Scottsdale, Dysart, and Cave Creek. Here are seven interesting data points in relationship to our peers that help us monitor our march towards greatness. Of the peer group, DVUSD has: 1) the lowest student-teacher ratio; 2) above average dollars spent in the classroom; 3) the second-most A-Rated Schools (65%); 4) the highest percentage of A & B schools (95% - tied); 5) the highest percentage of A-Plus School Of Excellence Awards (41%); 6) among the lowest administrative costs per student; and 7) above the average of students-per-administrator. These data points indicate we are on the right path, but there is always work to do. As the G2G series so eloquently says, “good is the enemy of great.”
In the last four months, two awards have also come to DVUSD from outside sources. KTAR’s annual rating of the “Best Public School District” has ranked DVUSD as the number two district in Arizona, while Forbes.com just bestowed upon DVUSD a Top-50 “America’s Best Employers by State” Award; DVUSD is the only school district in Arizona on the list! These two recent awards demonstrate DVUSD’s hard work and progress. Our staff is committed to moving from “good-to-great” the old-fashioned way, with collaboration and hard work. DVUSD is striving to be the greatest school district in all of AZ and with our community’s help and the dedication of our 4,000 #Extraordinary employees; we will get there together!
Dr. Finch is the Superintendent of Deer Valley Unified School District and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Superintendent
Curtis Finch, PhD
Dr. Finch’s quest for educational excellence began at an early age in Alaska with his mother as a school bus driver and father as the school district’s maintenance director; the school system was the center of the community. As a young adult, Curtis utilized the long summer days to skipper a commercial fishing boat, work construction, and mine gold to pay for his college education.
Curtis received a BA in Secondary Mathematics, a MA in Administration, and a PhD in Education. Dr. Finch has spent 24 years in administration at the Middle School, High School, Superintendent, and ISD levels. He has received two state Winner’s Circle awards and a Region III Superintendent of the Year award. The past eighteen years as a Superintendent has afforded Curt opportunities to shape educational issues, testifying before the Michigan Legislature, the FCC in Washington DC, and serving on local, state, and national committees. He has also passed multiple school levies, recently securing a $40 million Special Education Enhancement Millage and later creating Meceola Technical College for vocationally training adults.
Dr. Finch is married to Angie and has a daughter who is a math professor and a son who is completing his eye doctor residency.