A formal presentation is a classic combination of your savvy and experience and my wordcrafting.
The first part of this speech consisted of personal introduction and humorous identification with the process of regaining momentum after summer break. The second section was heavily fact-based but painted serious issues and work that needed to be done. Then…
… Well that's about as clear as I know how to make it. We have a lot of good things to build on. Good programs. Good people. Solid traditions. There's a bright future here if we work together and make it happen.
But we have real challenges. In fact, it's fair to say that we're at the point where we can find ways to win, or we could continue irreversibly as a struggling school system
So let me say as strongly as I can say it. We're not going to be mediocre strugglers. I'm a winner. I think you know how to become a winner. And together we are going to win.
But here's the hard truth. Things must change. We've let bad policies, bad attitudes and poor coordination become the way we do business. We need to work harder, work smarter, and work together.
I want you to visualize something with me … Visualize a roaring passenger train, barreling down the track. That train is this school system. For the journey ahead, I am the engineer and the train is headed toward change, improvement and progress.
I want you to be aboard, every one of you. But it seems there are always some who don't want to embrace change and improvement and progress. So I'll just say this, as emphatically as I can say it. If you aren't with me on the train, if you'd rather whine and gripe about what's going on...do your whining and griping from way over there… don't even think about standing on the tracks…. Is that clear?
And for those who are with me, let's roll up our sleeves and go to work. The future is bright ahead.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve, and for the part you will play in our success.
Video of the speech was available internally, as were printed versions for orientation packs.
School veterans talked about "the train speech" for years, illustrating the power of emotion and imagery in creating memorable communication.