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Aldine ISD employees start off 2002-03 school year with talk from Continental CEO

Thousands of Aldine ISD staff members kicked off the 2002-03 school year last Monday by gathering at the district’s M.O. Campbell Educational Center for the annual convocation event.

This year’s featured speaker was Gordon Bethune, chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines.
Aldine ISD Superintendent Nadine Kujawa welcomed back the staff and congratulated them on helping the district attain its sixth straight Recognized rating from the Texas Education Agency.

“Before we move into this 2002-03 school year, I would like to bring closure to last year, a year that tested the strength and courage of all Americans. As you can see, hanging from the top of the arena, our sixth banner, indicating that Aldine is a Recognized school district for the sixth consecutive year, the only large urban school district in the state to be able to make that statement,” Kujawa said. “But more important than that, student achievement continues to improve in almost every area and with every group of students. I am very proud of that accomplishment, and you are to be commended for the outstanding work that you do.”

Kujawa reminded the staff that the 2002-03 school year will offer new challenges, but she is confident the district will be ready to meet and accept any challenges put before it.

“The next level is waiting for us, the 2002-03 school year,” she said. “It will bring change and challenge for us, for our students and for our parents. Our planning, collaboration and action plans will guarantee the success of our students. I am confident that the changes and the challenges of the coming year will be met and conquered and the next level will be ours.”

Someone who knows what it means to meet challenges head on then addressed the audience, which filled the Campbell Center to capacity. When Bethune was named president and chief operating officer of Continental in February of 1994, the company was not highly regarded by travelers, employees or shareholders, but eight years later, it is the nation’s fifth largest airline, thanks to Bethune’s vision and leadership.

Today, Bethune serves as chairman and CEO of the airline and shared with the Aldine staff how working as a team is important in any endeavor, be it business or education.

“We had to learn how to work together to achieve our goals, and that’s what you have to do as well,” Bethune said. “When I arrived on the job, there was a lot of finger pointing, one department blaming another department when things didn’t go right.
We developed a four-point plan that turned around our airline.”

The four-point plan, titled the “Go Forward Plan,” was designed to improve Continental’s operational performance and working environment for employees and achieve and sustain profitability. The four points of the plan are:

•Fly to Win
•Fund the Future
•Make Reliability a Reality; and
•Working Together

Bethune said the most important component of the four-point plan was creating an atmosphere among the employees of working as a unit for the good of the company. The same is true for a school district, he said.

“Every employee, administrators, teachers, bus drivers, janitors, and cafeteria workers are involved in the education of children and everyone must work together to accomplish the goal,” he said. “Superintendent Kujawa and the district leadership (the Board of Education) have set the direction for the district.”

Bethune added that Aldine has met and is meeting its challenges head on to ensure academic achievement among its students.

“Despite the challenges you face, your teachers have already accomplished remarkable goals such as earning a Recognized rating for six straight years. Like any successful business, your school district is focused on its goals. You are to be congratulated on the work you have done and setting the goal of providing the best education for your students,” Bethune said.

Members of Aldine ISD’s Board of Education and business partners, community partners and parents of the district also attended the convocation.
The 2002-03 school year begins in earnest on Monday, Aug. 12 when students return to classes.