Your source for CHS news


Your source for CHS news


Your source for CHS news


Community Connections Series: Q&A with Michael Beresford

Michael Beresford, superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools

What is the Community Connections Series?

We were trying to figure out a way to connect with people in the community that do not have a student in the school district or maybe their kids graduated out and they have been disconnected or people who just moved into our community, like grandparents or anybody, and they just do not have a connection with the school. We came up with this Community Connections idea and thought we would try three ways to connect people who may not get information from Carmel Clay Schools or not know any information about Carmel Clay Schools and connect with them and give them good, accurate information about the good things happening here.

When will the Community Connections series be implemented?

Last week was our first meeting. We have been talking about it for a couple of months. Just like typical projects, we planned it, worked on communication, got all of our graphics, we got that all set, and planned the dates. Now it is kind of a rolling thing, I think it is going to roll throughout the rest of the year. A lot of it is just people who want to connect, so I am going to be busy and rolling around Carmel a lot in all kinds of different places. But I like that and think it is going to be fun. 

Why is it important for a place like Carmel to have a Community Connections Series?

Everybody in Carmel pays taxes for our buildings and a lot of upkeep and those types of things. Everybody pays taxes for our referendum and our referendum is very important for our functioning and the way we function at the level we function. It is over 25% of our budget, so I want all taxpayers to know what is going on in our district so they can see the value of (their taxes). I also want (community members) to get connected and engaged. We are better when parents, teachers, the community and even our city are all connected together and it makes us stronger. We are all interconnected, so how can we connect (with everyone) because there is a big group of people out there that are not connected. That is kind of the idea behind (the Community Connections Series) to give our community the chance to learn more about schools and come together.

Where did the idea of the Community Connections Series come from?

I think a part of it is when there is a lot of misinformation being sent out about our schools or just schools in general. I felt like, “Wow, how do we get accurate information to people so they know?” One of our thought processes was Expedition, people who have been through Expedition know a lot about our school. So, we thought how could we get that information out to more people than the 30 or so a year we have been doing. That is kind of where the idea came from.

What are Expedition Mini-Sessions?

We have three phases. One is that we are having these meetings-we just had one last week-at the three middle schools and it is just an open meeting to learn about Carmel Clay Schools. We call (the meetings) Expedition Mini-Series because we have a program called Expedition which is two full days of going deep diving into the different areas of Carmel Clay Schools. That was very popular, but we could only (include) like 30 people a year. We thought we could do an abbreviated version of that and do that in the three sides of town. We have two more coming up. We probably had about 20 or just under 20 people come to that first one. 

Are there any expedition mini-sessions already in place for the future? 

It is March 15 at Creekside Middle School starting at 6 p.m. and should last about an hour and a half. We are also planning to hold one at Carmel Middle School after spring break but have not set the date yet.

What is Coffee with the Superintendent?

The second phase is called Coffee with the Superintendent, which is ironic because I do not drink coffee. That is for really anyone who wants to contact us. We will schedule them and I will go. It could be the Home Owners Association, it could be different groups here in the city, it could just be a neighborhood, or a group of parents or grandparents. It is really wide open and we are scheduling those. (Coffee with the superintendent) is just small group meetings where I will talk with them. I have always had an open-door policy.

What are CHS Alumni Tours?

The third part is the fun one. It is the alumni tours. We made that for former students because we have a lot of people who have graduated from Carmel and they are living here or working here now. We also made (alumni tours) for parents of former Greyhounds and they come to the high school, meet up and get a guided tour of the facilities because they have not seen this (school) and the new performing arts (facility). The building changes and has changed a lot over the years, especially, there are some folks that graduated quite a while ago and it is way different because there have been some additions. (People who participate in the alumni tours) can just get a look and walk the halls one more time and we thought that would be cool. 

How can people register to participate in the Community Connections Series?

(People) can just come. (The Expedition Mini-Series) are just open meetings; anybody can walk in. We are trying to (plan the meetings) geographically so people do not have to travel very far. There is just a Google form that people can fill out (for the Coffee with the Superintendent and alumni tours). I talked to a lady just last week and she said that she knows a lot of people in her neighborhood that do not have kids and would just love to sit with me and just hear about the schools. I said sure and showed her the google form.

Have you gotten any feedback on the Community Connections Series so far? 

I got feedback from the first group because it was a smaller group. At the end, I just said, “What do you think?” because it was our first time going through (a meeting). They gave us some good feedback on what they were really interested in and things they were not as interested in. I also said ‘what about the presentation?’ because I want to get better at that. I think there are some places I can get better with presentations. Overall, I think people come and get information about school and different areas of school you do not normally work with like finances or human resources or what is teaching and learning doing to educate our kids at a high level. That is not a typical conversation you have and when you are getting information it is like, “Woah, that is pretty impressive.” I think we do some fun stuff. I have a little quiz I give at the start (of the meeting). We open up with some trivia and fun facts about the district. (Students) do really well so I like to brag about you guys. 

What would you say to a community member who is debating whether or not to participate in the Community Connections Series?

You ever wonder about what goes on in the schools these days? If you want to learn something, all you’ve got to do is fill out a Google form. I will tell you one thing I put at the end of every presentation is that we send out twice a month what we call a board recap. The board recap is just a videotape of the school board meeting and this has gone on for years before I got here five years ago. Anyone or any citizen can watch our school board meetings. We do it one step better because we break the video up into all the things so you do not have to scroll through a two-hour video to find your spot; instead you can just go straight to the spot you want to watch. Along with that, we do a newsletter with big things that have happened in the last two weeks so anybody in the community can be on that email list and get an email twice a month from Carmel Clay Schools. The email has what is going on with the board, what is happening in the district, fun facts and what is coming up. If you do not have the skills or you do not want to deal with signing up through a website, just call us and tell us your email and we will put your email in. 

What is your primary goal with the Community Connections Series?

I would love to have more than half of the population of people that are not connected with our schools to know about our schools. I would love to have everybody, but that is not realistic. At the end of the day, that would be great. The hard part is just finding how to do that so we are going to keep working on that. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My theme my very first year was “together we are better” and that is still true even though that was five years ago. Every year if we work together, we can achieve great things and that is what we do and it has worked out pretty great.


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