In 2013 I noticed a grammatical error in a message displayed on a Clover Park Schools reader-board. I attempted to contact Ms. Debbie LeBeau, Superintendent of Clover Park Schools, by sending her an email via the district website. In my email I asked Ms. LeBeau for a return phone call.
I thought contacting Ms. LeBeau was the best way to request a district wide change to eliminate such errors from the district’s reader-board messages. In my opinion, it is important for the school district not only to teach our students in the classroom, but also to teach by example.
I did not receive a return call from Ms. LeBeau.
I realize that no one is obligated to return a phone call to me, and that anyone who returns my call is not obligated to say yes to any request I might make.
However, a failure to return a phone call can trigger unintended consequences, especially if I am the one not getting the return phone call. In this case instead of having a private two person conversation, I went public with my concern by publishing an article in The Suburban Times.
Several additional articles followed, in which I made reference to this communication failure.
Recently, something positive happened. Ms. LeBeau sent me an email indicating she had learned of my concerns and she invited me to call her.
Soon after, we had a pleasant and constructive meeting in Ms. LeBeau’s office. I was not surprised by the success of our meeting because two prominent Lakewood citizens had informed me that they had always found it easy to communicate with Ms. LeBeau.
Prior to our meeting, Ms. LeBeau and I had shared only a cyberspace relationship absent any element of two-way communication. This meeting transformed our non-productive cyberspace relationship into a productive face to face relationship.
Ms. LeBeau assured me that she is very serious about returning phone calls, even the difficult phone calls that come her way. She is dedicated to connecting and communicating with the public she serves, including me.
Ms. LeBeau told me that according to her memory, she did not return my call because my email request had failed to reach her. It is not her practice to ignore phone messages. Had the email reached her, she assured me, she would have called me.
I am a guy who attempts not to hang on to past negative experiences. I can now declare that our communication breakdown no longer matters. What does matter is that we have successfully established our ability to communicate especially because I now know of her constructive and businesslike attitude regarding returning phone calls.
I strongly feel that because I was publicly critical about not receiving my requested phone call, I should invest just as much energy now complimenting Ms. LeBeau for her effort to talk with me.
Ms. LeBeau, I thank you for your professionalism in reaching out to me, and for agreeing to meet in person. The future? I firmly believe the two of us will be able to communicate productively should a need related to our community’s kids arise in the future. As you say, ”Kids are the point.”