Editor's Note: The following article is a release by the Valley View School District.
Rachel Kinder is delighted to be a part of what she terms “a new energy” in . The fact is, as Valley View’s new assistant superintendent for education in grades 6-12, she will play a big part in putting that energy to good use as the district moves forward.
Kinder, who readily admits she “admires” new Superintendent James Mitchem because of his educational beliefs and leadership abilities, says she is committed to “doing what’s right for kids.”
“There are many great things going on in the district,” she said. “But we aren’t necessarily capitalizing on our strengths through collaboration with one another. The fact that we are a unit district and have K-12, and even early childhood, is a huge asset.”
Kinder and her team plan on leveraging that asset by ensuring that there is continuity in the curriculum as students progress from grade to grade and ensuring that core instructional best-practices are consistently implemented. Integrating literacy and numeracy across the curriculum is also essential.
“Our staff is truly a strength because everyone has the best interest of kids in mind. Everyone wants to support our kids in every way possible,” she said. “If we can streamline what we’re doing and increase collaboration around best practices, we’ll see tremendous gains…and by gains I don’t mean just test scores, I mean the whole experience students have from the time they start until the time they graduate.”
Among the many things on Kinder’s extremely full “plate” is leading the district’s efforts to incorporate the “Common Core State Standards” that have been adopted by the majority of states across the country.
“There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the process of aligning curricula and preparing to implement the new assessment model,” she said. “But I’m excited because it’s the first time I’ve seen continuity in what we do. For the first time we have an end in mind on a large-scale. It’s forcing us to collaborate.”
That collaboration has already begun at the administrative level with Valley View beginning with the implementation of newly aligned mathematics curricula in 2011-2012 at several levels and continuing the process in mathematics, literacy, and English/Language Arts for full implementation in the 2013-14 school year, one full year ahead of the proposed start date for the new assessment system.
“We’ve also started conversations with our building administrators and district directors to create a common definition of what is good instruction and how this fits into the big picture,” Kinder said, adding that those same conversations will take place at the teacher level as well as at the parent and student levels “because how we all learned when we were in school is not always the same thing as what we know is most effective for our students today to prepare them for the necessary 21st century skills.”
Kinder, who served two years as assistant principal of curriculum and instruction and two years as BHS foreign language department chair, is pleased with the mix of veteran and new administrators with whom she will work.
“There will be challenges. I am not naïve enough to think that with a brand new team there will not be a learning curve,” she said. “There are drawbacks that come with having so many people moving into new positions, but we have a great deal of experienced leaders, both from within the district and joining us from outside, that we can lean on. We have a strong support system for our new building leaders and will offer that same level of support through professional development for teachers and support staff.
“Anytime you mix it up, it forces you to look at yourself with a critical eye to find a productive solution to move forward,” she added. “We’re here to do what’s right for all kids, and if there’s something we need to change or make sure we continue, then that is exactly what we will do.”