Mar 09, 2019
Experienced Education Innovation Expert - Adaptive Leadership Change Agent - Tireless Advocate for Children - Team Empowerment - Design Thinking Advocate - Solutions Architect
I am a student-centered educational innovator that values empowering others, collaboration with all stakeholders, and building caring relationships. But at my core, I am a teacher and a coach at heart. There is no greater honor than to collaboratively lead on behalf of children. The rewards for creating a culture of opportunity through education for all children to succeed and have hope for the future is immeasurable. As a life-long learner, I challenge myself to grow daily; never coasting; developing new skills, seeking new opportunities and participating in daily reflection on experiences in order to improve future performance. I set a very high standard for myself ethically and professionally; leading by example.
I have had more than 28 years of educational experience with the vast majority of that time in leadership roles. Currently I serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services at Kent ISD, fulfilling the role of chief academic leader, providing direct and indirect services to more than 120,000 students, 7,000 certified staff, in the 4th largest educational stakeholder base in Michigan. My duties include direct supervision of 94% of our $298 Million budget that provides services in Special Education, Teaching and Learning, Early Childhood, Data and Technology Services, and Career & Technology Education. I hold a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a lifetime of learning from educational experiences that have shaped my lens in leadership effectiveness; focusing first on caring; in order to lead effectively.
I am the product of my leadership experiences, in diverse settings, and impactful trainings enhanced through a growth mindset. I have led building level, district level, and state level initiatives; from bond proposals to building projects; from local school reform to ESSA Statewide External Advisory Work Groups; from bargaining contracts to participating in state level school finance reform hearings; each experience has served to fuel leadership success for the next situation. I have worked in rural and urban districts; serving large and small communities; in affluent and poor neighborhoods; I am comfortable and relate well to all stakeholders. Through training in Adaptive Leadership and Design Thinking; I am skilled at leading valuable and talented people from a position of where they have always been to a place where they can be of greater impact in a manner that is empowering, collaborative, creative, and innovative. My career has been a road map empowering me to build the capacity of our leadership teams to create a culture where challenges are viewed as opportunities.
Evidence of the impact of my leadership include:
As Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services at Kent ISD ; in combining the positions of Teaching and Learning and Organizational Development and Planning into Instructional Services ; which encompasses 94% of the Kent ISD $298 Million Budget; implemented a Design Thinking and Adaptive Leadership model to achieve the exemplary results; including Continuous Improvement External Feedback stating “the level of services provided has never been better in a climate that is far more complex” and Internal Feedback indicating that Think Tank Thursday , Fact or Fiction Friday , and the Instructional Service Update were the three most impactful artifacts evidencing Kent ISD’s Leading Learning and being the First Choice for Services .
As Superintend of Kent City Schools ; inherited a district in fiscal crisis and declining enrollment with a high school identified in the state’s Bottom 5%, rallied educational stakeholders through collaborative transitional leadership strategies to adopt a strategic plan that included a retire/rehire model, created EL STEM Consultants, restructured the school day, expanded CTE, negotiated salary and benefit shifts, and curricular focus areas that lead to high wage careers resulting in significant academic growth at all levels and removal from the bottom 5%, a district with growing enrollment, and a surplus budget despite reduced funding.
As High School Principal for Howell Public Schools ; tasked with shifting 3,000 HS Students into a 1,700 student building as part of the district’s transition to a two high school district; invented a flexible scheduling model that created a variety of learning options including EMC, extended 110-minute courses on alternate day schedules, delayed and/or early starts, summer credits for reduced schedules for students and staff, authentic learning in 10 day summers courses, and flexible scheduling options for staff in a student-centered model; the result was 10% or greater improvement in attendance, 67% reduction in discipline, 32% increase in college credits earned, and an overall reduction in failure rates by 28%.
As an Administrator in Farmington Public Schools ; faced with a significant gap in minority student achievement, developed, submitted, and was approved for a Federal Smaller Learning Communities Grant that allowed for cohort clusters of schedules based on identified learning styles, teacher teaming with family connections supporting literacy and numeracy, and targeted Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions; resulting a 72% 9th grade failure rate reduction, 48% reduction in level 1 discipline referrals, and district leading growth on MEAP/ACT scores.
I see the role of the educational Chief Executive Officer through the lens described by Waters & Marzano in School District Leadership that Works ; together with the governance team, the Executive Board and the CEO have the ability, capacity, and moral imperative to help all children to achieve, excel, and grow into tremendous contributors to a global society. I am a student-centered leader; and lead with a kind and caring heart; focused on service to others and building the capacity of the team to achieve excellence on behalf of our stakeholders.
In Tapia’s model of 21st Century Inclusive Leadership; who I am as a leader, combined with what I do, is what shapes the success of the system that I serve in. I focus on being self-aware, value the differences in others, develop talent, build and lead diverse teams, manage and mitigate conflict, proactively leverage collaboration, instilling trust, situationally adaptable to changing stressors and expectations, balancing the needs of stakeholders with an equity compass, operating in an organizationally savvy manner, with a laser-like focus on Vision and Purpose; seeking positive results; and cultivating innovation to shift challenges into opportunities. My personal fabric is shaped by inclusive leadership traits; curiosity, adaptability, strategic risk taking, tolerance for ambiguity, and empathy; each shape my leadership lens. I have been able to lead organizational success by effectively leveraging inclusive leadership drivers; communication is both direct and indirect; balancing leadership and management between flat organizational theory and hierarchical structures; creatively managing tasks and people to achieve highly effective job completion; operating in the “grey areas” of tradition and change to achieve stability with innovation.
But the most valuable trait I exhibit is courage to lead; raised by a mother who worked in a factory, a father who was deployed internationally, and co-parented by a grandmother who was the product of the great depression; I have a leadership resiliency; grit; the courage to do what is best for children.
These are my values as a leader. My leadership “road map” has led me to seek this opportunity to join you and your governance team; in being part of your educational community; sharing your mission; and helping children to have a better tomorrow.
Caledonia, MI, USA