Guido van Nispen on Flickr “R0011198”
About seven years ago, a handful of team members joined me at a training on classroom observations. Day one of the training covered the research and background of the observation process. In the morning on day two, we actually went into classrooms to apply the paper tool we had in our hands. The afternoon of day 2 was spent then manually calculating all of our results to get data from the observations we had conducted.
As I was sitting there that afternoon and looking around the room at the brilliant, highly educated people involved in this mundane process, I thought “there has to be a better way…this is such a waste of their time”. So on the drive home, the eWT idea came into fruition as my team and I began to visualize and create what an electronic observation tool would look like. We identified the problems with the process on which we had just been trained that day! For example:
Our list went on and on regarding how we might design and program a system that would provide administrators and TEACHERS a more efficient and effective process that could drive decisions and ultimately, instructional improvement. SWPRSC immediately began to work with a programmer on the basic ideas and piloted the process with two school districts that very first year!
My next career move came in the form of an invitation to join the team of Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Sublette, Kansas, as Assistant Executive Director with a focus on providing inservices to districts. At the time, it was an agency that provided health insurance to school districts and I would be their professional development “department” of one! Because of SWPRSC's leader, Deb Haltom, I took the leap.
Thanks to my upbringing and experiences with 4-H, public speaking has never been a problem for me. My background as a K-12 teacher, administrator and special education teacher provided me with extensive background knowledge for most audiences.
Fast forward to today…
I have been Executive Director at Southwest Plains Regional Service Center now for 11 years. During the time I have had a luxury that most leaders do not get during their career: I have been able to build my team at SWPRSC.
When I started at SWPRSC we had 8 employees. To date, we have around 80 employees. I was the only consultant that provided professional learning when I started and now we have a team of 14 professional learning consultants, we direct the Migrant Program for the state of Kansas and we have 10 adult learning centers where adults can earn their high school diploma.
There is only one word for the SWPRSC TEAM: incredible. OK…and talented, zealous, committed, highly skilled, exceptional, brilliant, enthusiastic, etc. I could go on and on about our team. Each team member brings extensive classroom experience, extensive specialized training and advanced degrees. Our mission is:
Professional Learning…Innovative Solutions.
And that is what they represent.
The only way to do great work it to love what you do.” --Steve Jobs
"Up the Stairs to School" by Michael Coghlan on Flickr
After six years of teaching FACS and Gifted Education which allowed me the opportunity to serve students K-12, I was asked if I would consider moving into K-12 Administration.
My small school of Copeland was also going through changes and we were about to enter into a “sharing agreement” with Montezuma, a town 12 miles down the road. This agreement still stands today and has been, in my opinion, an excellent example of a partnership of two communities and two school districts working together for the good of their students.
By moving into administration, I became a K-12 Building Leader with my office in the high school building in Montezuma. The thought of being able to support the change for the Copeland students into this new situation was as much of a draw to my decision to move into administration as anything. Being a “Copeland” person situated in the town of Montezuma, my hope was that I could contribute to overcoming any barriers in the shift that would surely arise. Thus, back to school l went.
I completed requirements for a K-12 Building Leader endorsement and ultimately gained my District Leader certification during my time as South Gray Building Leader. As anyone who has been an administrator in a small district knows, you learn all aspects of running the school - transportation, activities director, food service, scheduling, hiring, plans of assistance, working with boards of education, negotiations, and on and on. This was an invaluable learning time in my time in education.
Kelly's insights on classroom observation, education, leadership, teaching, and mentoring.