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Board of education identifies ‘big rocks’

The Lawton Public Schools Board of Education shared their “big rocks” during last Monday night’s regular meeting. 

If you are not familiar with this term, you can Google “big rocks demonstration” and watch several videos that illustrate the concept. My favorite version starts with two identical containers and two identical amounts of sand, gravel, a few large rocks, and water. The first container is filled smallest to largest – sand, gravel, big rocks, and finally water. After the sand alone, the container is clearly too small, resulting in a big mess. When filling the second container, however, the big rocks are placed in first, followed by the gravel, then the sand. The pitcher of water remains, and although every crack and crevice is packed with material, the container holds every drop. The point of the demonstration is that if we fill our lives with the small things first, there will be no room for the most important items. If we start with the Big Rocks, however, everything fits. 

The little stuff is important in life, but it can sometimes displace our priorities. 

By focusing on the big rocks first, we ensure that nothing is missed, not even the small stuff!

Every year, the board and I work on goals, but this is the first time in recent memory that the board publicly identified priorities for me and the district. They expect measurable improvement by the end of the 2018-19 school year. Board president and Area 5 member, Kent Jester, began the discussion by identifying the four areas of focus: School safety and security, customer service, academic excellence, and accountability.

“Our main goal has been for quite some time to be the best district in the state, if not the country.” 

He noted that we already have an excellent school district, but by focusing together on these areas, “we can make tremendous strides forward.”

Kelly Edwards, Area 4, spoke about security and safety, noting that she graduated the same year as the Columbine tragedy.

“In addition to providing (our students) with a good education and a healthy environment … we keep our kids safe at all ages. It has never been more important.”

As a parent of two LPS students, she noted that we may be in turmoil-filled times, but she has confidence in the Lawton Public Schools Police Department. They cannot do it alone, however. They need our support and vigilance to be successful.

Dr. Lori Bridges, Area 3, defined customer service as “taking care of customers’ needs by providing professional, helpful, high-quality service and assistance during and after the customer’s needs are met.”  She noted that customer service is not only related to our interactions with parents, students, and community members, but it is also how staff members serve each other’s needs.

Vice-President Carla Coldfelter (Area 1) defined accountability. 

“We hold the superintendent accountable for everything that happens in the district, and therefore, he is going to hold you responsible.” 

She noted that the board approves many programs, but they do not always hear enough evidence about their effectiveness, benefits, or the growth instilled in students.

“We need to see a measurable difference,” she said.

Patty Neuwerth, Area 2, addressed academic excellence as our final and most important big rock. 

“Academic excellence is creating an environment whereby a student can excel in scholastic activities, including extra-curricular activities, by meeting short and long-term goals.” 

This prepares students for lives as career-bound citizens. She noted that accountability and data-driven instruction are critical components of for our district’s success.   

Well said, board members! Please let them know that you support them, and please pray for the safety of our students this second Sunday of the month.

Tom Deighan is the superintendent of Lawton Public Schools. Read more of his columns at

The Lawton Constitution

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