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Be our Guest

It’s All About the Experience

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” -Walt Disney

Like many of you, I’ve been fortunate enough to take my family on a visit to Walt Disney World. We had a wonderful time, and we left feeling like the entire experience was tailored to our needs. That’s what Disney is known for. They take extreme pride in catering the Disney experience to your expectations.

Walt Disney, the mastermind behind the entire Disney brand, had a four-pillared philosophy: Dream, Believe, Dare, Do. He believed that our only limitations are our closed mindsets. To Walt Disney, he believed that the experience of visiting his parks should feel like it was made just for you. Nobody that visited was a customer.  They were all guests. Disney World staff routinely say, “The answer is ‘yes,’ now what is the question?”

Disney’s success can be summed up as follows:

  1. Legendary attention to detail
  2. Exceed people’s expectations
  3. Theme, theme, theme
  4. Be guest-centered

Looking at our school districtDSC_0177, I can’t help but think that we too are serving our guests- the students and their families who attend our schools daily. Why can’t students’ school experiences be tailored to their long term goals, their wishes, and their needs? We should give every student a chance to dream – to tap into creativity of their dreams. We should treat them as guests as we support, empower, and serve them. Why can’t we help them align their long-term visions with short term actions to reach those visions?

I know we have certain requirements that must be met, but what if we helped students chart their “Disney experience” that our schools would need to provide in order to prepare them with the job skills, experiences, credentials, field trips, extra-curricular activities, capabilities, and understandings to leave Newton-Conover saying, “I had the time of my life growing, learning, and being a part of something special. I’m ready to conquer the world.”

If Disney ran our schools,

  1. We would make courtesy and service top priorities.
  2. We would be about the entire family, not just the kids.
  3. Experiences would be tailored to the customer’s needs and goals.
  4. Themes (STEM, Project-based learning, Blended learning, Dual language, Leader in Me) would be much more than just a name on the building.
  5. We would DREAM BIG.

Our limitations are our own construct in many ways. Yes, there are a lot of things out of our control, but we do control the experience of our students. Let’s dream big, believe in our power of inspiration and capabilities, dare to be creative, and do our best to give students an experience in Newton-Conover that they’ll fondly recall for years to come.

About David Stegall

Dr. David Stegall is the Superintendent for Newton-Conover City Schools. He previously served Newton-Conover as the Associate Superintendent, and previous to that as the Director of Elementary Curriculum, ESL (English as a second language) and AIG (academically and intellectually gifted). In February, 2012 he was named the Outstanding Young Educator for North Carolina by NCASCD and was a National Finalist for the ASCD Outstanding Young Educator Award. In 2016 Dr. Stegall was named a National Superintendent to Watch by NSPRA.
Dr. Stegall joined the Newton-Conover City School system from Iredell-Statesville Schools in July 2007. He has presented at the state, national and international levels on professional learning communities and teacher empowerment. Dr. Stegall received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; a master’s degree in education from Gardner-Webb University; an education specialist degree in education administration from Appalachian State University; and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from ASU.

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