Dr. Jody McVittie Reflects on a New Phase

January 2022; We are on the threshold of a new year, and I am also on the threshold of a new phase of life. Beginning in February, I am shifting from my role as Director of Strategic Partnerships to a transitional role as part-time Strategic Advisor. For the next 6-9 months, I’ll focus on a few specific projects: evaluation, curriculum development, and capacity building. As I move toward full retirement, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren, playing with some art projects, and exploring a small collective climate project that has interested me for a time.

This transition is the next step for Sound Discipline in a process that began before the pandemic in late 2019. Since then, we’ve hired our new Executive Director, Andrea John-Smith, and we’ve worked hard to respond to the needs of schools as they navigate the pandemic. We’ve also piloted and implemented our newest initiative – the District Partnership Model (DPM) – in southern Oregon, partnering with the Southern Oregon Educational Service District to build educational communities where everyone has a sense of safety, significance, and belonging.

Since the early nineties, I have been doing some form of this work, supporting families and educators to help young people know they belong and matter. I believe this work is the path to a more equitable world. The District Partnership Model, which aims to build internal district capacity and sustainability, feels like one of many dreams coming true.

Sound Discipline carries forward this vision of equitable communities where everyone can belong and matter. Comprised of people from many backgrounds and walks of life, our team is bringing it to life alongside educators, school leaders, and families. It is thrilling to see and be a part of.

As I tell leaders, transitions are a between place. Not the place we are leaving behind, and not the place we’re going to. That threshold, that middle place, is often uncomfortable. It makes us ask ourselves and our organizations, “What will I leave behind?” “What will I carry with me into the future?” I am asking myself these questions as I step onto this threshold in my own life. 

I invite you to ask these questions as you reflect on the many transitions you have experienced in your life through the pandemic and how you will bring the best of yourself into the uncertainties of the coming year. 

As I look back at all we at Sound Discipline have accomplished in 15 years and move toward retirement, I feel, as poet John O’Donohue says, “a sense of trust in what is emerging.” I’m carrying with me lovely memories, relationships, and lots of appreciation for the collaboration and shared learnings from the Sound Discipline team. 

While uncertainty makes me a bit uncomfortable, I am also looking forward with curiosity. What will it really be like to work less and play more? I’ll report back!


Dr. Jody McVittie has been the Program Director, Executive Director, and Director of Strategic Partnerships for Sound Discipline. She co-founded Sound Discipline in 2007.