The Superintendent watched a basketball game in March and learned about Shaka Smart’s EGBs (dot #4039) — and it became the seed that started the planning for the School District’s opening session for staff. Over the course of several months, multiple brainstorming sessions, and a host of iterations, EGBs, and energy were coupled with a Positive Potato theme and became a series of intentional exercises, props, and metaphors to kick off the new academic year.

Some examples: the leadership team went on a scavenger hunt to places with an “energy” theme such as a solar farm, a radio station, an energy drink store, and an electric vehicle charging station. Staff members rode buses to the session and had “hot potatoes” to foster interaction and silliness along the way. People participated in the classic science experiment to power light bulbs by hooking potatoes together to generate energy.

I loved hearing the story of how the event evolved. My two takeaways: 1) The best ideas happen over time. The Superintendent first mentioned the EGB idea months, not weeks, before it happened. This allowed time to engage others, refine ideas, and make the event special. 2) Themes only work when there is purpose behind them. Having a Positive Potato message could have been cheesy, but the District was able to tie it to generating an attitude and mindset for the year and consciously link the concepts to meaningful lessons the Superintendent wanted to convey.

The School District generated energy by evolving a theme around energy in a brilliant example of intentionally connecting the dots. Take a lesson from their playbook and look ahead a few months on your calendar. What event will be better if you start ruminating on the idea now? Like potatoes, ideas take a long time to become fully baked.

Bravo Dubuque Community School District!

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