Mijares: Communication is vital to the success of OCDE and Orange County schools

Last year, a powerful new vision was unveiled to guide the work of the Orange County Department of Education: We declared that “Orange County students will lead the nation in college and career readiness and success.”

desk-of-al-smallThis may be ambitious, but we are not alone in our pursuit. For our vision to become reality, it must continue to be embraced daily by teachers, students, parents, administrators, volunteers, community members, business leaders and elected officials. In other words, our success hinges on collaboration and engagement.

As part of a strategic effort to strengthen both, OCDE is now in the process of enhancing and expanding its communications presence by leveraging the latest media platforms to deliver news and information that is accessible, relevant, compelling and credible.

You may already be familiar with one of our newer communications initiatives. Our staff has launched a website called the OCDE Newsroom that features education stories and videos about our local schools and programs. Recent Newsroom posts have included a breakdown of education buzzwords and acronyms, a list of strategies to keep young minds sharp over the summer and a feature on a former student from our deaf and hard of hearing program who became a college basketball coach.

The OCDE Newsroom is a place to learn more about our schools, as well as emerging trends in education, but it’s not the only way to engage with our department. I would also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Now back to why this is so important.

OCDE supports 27 school districts serving more than 500,000 students in more than 600 schools. Needless to say, there is much to be gained by making students, educators and the community more aware of the vital programs and services available.

Specifically, we want all Orange County families to know of the resources that can contribute greatly to their children’s academic performance and wellbeing. We want all teachers, administrators and support staff to know of the invaluable professional development opportunities and support services that can take teaching and learning to the next level. We also want to expand our efforts to share best practices — particularly those that have proven their worth in high-achieving classrooms — while continuing to spotlight the incredible success stories that can motivate and inspire others.

All of this has the potential to contribute to positive student outcomes, which is our ultimate bottom line.

Communication and collaboration are so vital to our success that we’ve listed them, collectively, among OCDE’s current Strategic Priorities. These objectives are driving the work of our staff, and I would encourage you to learn more by visiting our website.

In the meantime, I would also invite you to take a look around the OCDE Newsroom — and to connect with us on social media.

Exciting things are happening in education in 2015. It’s time to spread the word.