Meet Your School Superintendent: Interviews with Shasta and Tehama Counties’ Superintendents of Schools

Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Tom Armelino shares fun learning time with Kaylina of Alta Mesa State Preschool.

Your county school superintendent plays an important and supportive role for each school district. As an elected position, a superintendent serves in a leadership role and is a facilitator for bringing together those involved in the educational system to talk about common issues. He or she serves as a consultant and mediator, oversees the financial obligations of school districts, facilitates teacher training programs, oversees the district’s special needs programs, and much more.

We wanted to take the time to interview school superintendents in order to share their insights, get an update on what’s current in our local public schools, and also to share some advice for parents about ways to support their children’s educational process.

Tom Armelino, Shasta County Superintendent of Schools

Q: How are schools currently partnering with parents and the community at large to support schools, in ways different than just ten years ago?

Tom Armelino: Parents are essential to their child’s success in school. As society grows more complex and schools are forced to reduce services due to state and federal budget cuts, some of the responsibilities once reserved for schools alone have changed. Today, parents and schools share many roles and the boundary lines have become blurred. In most homes both parents have been forced to work due to the economy, and many of our students spend more waking time at school than they do at home. In addition, parents spend less time volunteering at school and often have less time at home to help their child with their academic learning. This is occurring at a time when schools are asking more and more of parents due to increased academic expectations of rigor measured by academic testing. With high expectations and reduced funding, schools are also asking parents to help with fundraisers to pay for school field trips, athletics, music, and other extracurricular activities that we once took for granted. Without the help of parents and the community, many schools are reducing or eliminating these activities. Yet, with cooperation and good communication, a bridge can be built between school and home to help the student understand that both the school and their parents share a common interest of helping them be successful.

Q: What are some key ways parents can help foster their child’s academic achievement?

TA: During these times of increased mandates due to NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and the pressure of high-stakes testing, the home-school partnership is more important than ever. Parents and educators must work together to get a better understanding of one another.

Parental involvement is a key element in a child’s success in school. Simply put, students who have involved parents do better in school. When parents take time to build vocabulary with their children through conversations, those children enter school with a larger vocabulary and have a much better chance of success in school. Many educators love seeing parents volunteer in the classroom, help children with homework by checking it to make sure it is correct, and attend school events to support their children. That involvement helps to build a stronger school community.

Small children need to have a parent check their book bags when they get home from school and make sure they are packed correctly before they leave for school in the morning. All children need their parents to ask them specifics about their school day and understand how their child is feeling about school. In addition, parents need to ask their child if they have homework, and stay on top of their child’s grades. Yet, the home-school connection needs to be about balance. Children need to be allowed to make their own mistakes; children often learn valuable lessons through those mistakes. It helps build resiliency and provides life lessons that will help them in the future when they enter adulthood.

Q: Is there anything key you would like the community and families to know about regarding the current public school system and its impact on county schools?

TA: Shasta County schools, in partnership with College Options; Shasta College; California State University, Chico; University of California, Davis; First 5; and Public Health, have been working together to create an initiative titled Reach Higher Shasta. This initiative is intended to ensure all Shasta County students will achieve success once they leave high school. Our mission is: “All Shasta County students will receive an education that successfully prepares them, without remediation, for multiple postsecondary options with a focus on high skill, high wage employment.” To learn more about Reach Higher Shasta visit http://www.reachhighershasta.com or contact Charlene Ramont at (530) 229-8219.

Tehama County Superintendent of Schools Larry Champion.
Photo: Jamie Solorio Photography

Larry Champion, Tehama County Superintendent of Schools

Q: In what ways have parents and the community helped the schools in your district, how key is this involvement, and how can people become involved today? 

Larry Champion: In Tehama County, our community has bonded together and created a grassroots movement called “Expect More Tehama!” That is, a community of all stakeholders working together to build relationships, create teamwork, and establish an action-oriented, transitional plan that encourages higher expectations for higher education. Those higher expectations are for all the children in our county and we are all challenged to continuously improve in our efforts to ensure that all students achieve at their highest levels. Community members are involved by giving of their time or treasure to the extensive list of activities coordinated by Expect More Tehama! to guarantee that our school system can provide a quality educational experience for all students while meeting our goal of increasing the number of our children going on to college and career. Parents can obtain more information and find out how to get involved by visiting http://www.expectmoretehama.com.

Q: What are some key ways parents can help support their child’s school experience and to help insure their child’s success in learning?

LC: Our First 5 Tehama Commission has as their mantra: “School Readiness Begins at Birth:  Read, Sing, Play – visit the Doctor/Dentist – Start Today!” We encourage parents to consider the social/emotional and cognitive needs of their children, as well as proper medical/health/diet considerations as they prepare them for their educational experience. One key way that parents can support a successful school experience is for them to read to their children. This year, Expect More Tehama! launched Tehama Reads! This is our effort to ensure that our children are proficient readers by the end of third grade. This partnership has community organizations, public libraries, local businesses, service clubs, and governmental agencies all working together to help our schools and parents reach the goal of proficient readers by the end of the third grade. With this good start, we know that they are on their way to growing smart.

Q: What motto do you live by?

LC: I am a Rotarian and the theme of the organization, which has 1.2 million members worldwide, is “Service Above Self.” The education of children is work of paramount importance and requires a “Servant Leader” to rise above self in order to even begin the work.

Q: Is there anything key you would like the community and families to know about regarding the current public school system and its impact on county schools?

The public schools of Tehama County are doing a great job in spite of the challenges that we are all facing as a result of the current economic climate. Student achievement continues to increase, and schools are safe, well maintained and clean. Most importantly, the schools of Tehama County are staffed with highly qualified and caring people. We are always looking for ways to continuously improve our system in partnership with parents and community.

Lisa Shara
About Lisa Shara

Writer Lisa Shara lives in upper Northern California where she is involved in a variety of community projects.

Comment Policy: All viewpoints are welcome, but comments should remain relevant. Personal attacks, profanity, and aggressive behavior are not allowed. No spam, advertising, or promoting of products/services. Please, only use your real name and limit the amount of links submitted in your comment.


Leave a Reply