Note: In our November issue we featured interviews with Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Tom Armelino and Tehama County Superintendent of Schools Larry Champion. To read those informative interviews, visit http://www.northstateparent.com/SuperintendentsPt1
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 and juvenile court school programs, and 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.
Kermith R. Walters, Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools
Q: What are some ways parents and the community at large can become involved with supporting their local schools?
Kermith R. Walters: I always encourage parents and community members to attend their local school board meetings. This is where the decisions are being made that are impacting their students. Be involved, ask questions. Attend the back-to-school and open house events. If parents have the time, they can volunteer in the classroom or playground. With the current budget issues impacting schools, schools are looking for individuals who can help out.
Q: What are some changes we will likely see in the coming years at public schools in terms of learning and classroom work?
KW: I look at technology and the use of technology and the role it will play in education as a major change in terms of learning and classroom work. I also see technology as our biggest challenge. It will be our job to ensure our students are prepared to compete with not only other students in the United States, but throughout the world for the jobs that will be available to them.
Q: What motto do you live by? Who has influenced you?
KW: I sign my letters with the saying “Putting Children First” – I live by this saying. Every decision I make I think about what is best for my students, period. I give credit for this to my mentor and good friend Joe Funderburg, who was the superintendent/principal at Big Springs Elementary for over 15 years. Joe was/is an adjunct professor at Simpson University and trained teachers through the CalState TEACH program. Joe has instilled in so many to never forget the reason we are in the education field.
Tim Taylor, Butte County Superintendent of Schools
Q: Who is a person you admire as an example of someone making a difference in education, and why?
Tim Taylor: I most admire my mom who worked as an elementary and middle school teacher for 33 years in the Santa Clara Unified School District. Upon entering her classroom you instantly knew that each child was in the hands of a loving, caring and strict teacher. Having watched her work so hard while raising four kids inspires me to remember that our most valuable resources in education are our teachers and the administrators who work hard to support them.
Q: What are specific ways the community has helped and continues to help schools in your district?
TT: Having recently moved to Butte County from Sacramento I am amazed how each community supports and cherishes schools here – parents, businesses, colleges and the community organizations are actively involved with supporting schools. The parent and booster clubs throughout the region do an outstanding job, and businesses and local Chambers of Commerce provide scholarships, shopping rewards and community service learning opportunities for thousands of kids each year. City and county agencies provide our students and staff with hands-on experiences at museums, parks and businesses that enrich their school experience. Without the help and support of parents and the community our schools would lack vital resources and programs for kids. Parent, family and community involvement correlates to better student achievement and more effective schools. The whole community plays an essential role in the development of children.
Q: What are ways parents can best support their child’s experience in school, and their child’s overall learning process?
TT: There is a quote posted at one of our local elementary school districts as you walk onto their campus that says: “Your children need your presence more than your presents.” In this day and age where instant gratification seems to be an overriding expectation, one of the most important ingredients for a child’s success in school is the act of a parent or guardian giving their child focused time and attention – including helping their child to plan for and to execute long-term projects and goals.
Today, schools and educational systems provide parents with an array of materials and information about their schools and the expectations of what children should be learning. Parents or guardians who are aware of the learning expectations will be able to provide better support in their child’s learning process. It is also critical that parents demonstrate that education is important and valued. Getting kids to school rested, fed and prepared are important ingredients for student success.
Lastly, it is important for parents to realize that today’s school experience is significantly different for students than it was when they themselves went to school. We expect more from our children today to help them be successful in the competitive world they face. Have patience and understanding about the tremendous work your child is accomplishing.
Q: Is there anything key you would like the community/families to know about regarding the current public school system and its impact on county schools?
TT: The California educational system addresses a gigantic and diverse need statewide. Butte County is a small and unique area that works to develop creative and innovative solutions and locally designed educational options to meet individual needs. In California education, one size doesn’t fit all. Butte County works diligently to meet our specific educational needs for students and families. The Butte County motto is “Where children come first” and our community will continue to work hard to prepare our kids to become successful adult citizens.