Monday, August 8, 2016

Problem-Solving the Key for Community Superintendents

Kristin Craft

Community Superintendent Kristin Craft
If Kristin Craft seems thrilled to be a community superintendent, well, it might be because it’s by design.

After all, Craft believes that effective teaching and learning shouldn’t be random and should be available to all – not by chance but by design.

“I strongly feel that every student deserves a high-quality teacher – not by chance but by design,” she said. “And every family deserves a high-quality school – not by chance but by design.”

Craft comes to SBISD from a similar position in Houston ISD where she supervised and evaluated campus principals of five urban high schools serving more than 6,000 students. In Spring Branch, she’ll likely oversee elementary, middle and high schools – serving more students as well. And that too might be by design.

“I’ve been principal at every level,” said Craft. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the ‘big picture’, how the pieces fit together.”

Craft began her career as an elementary teacher in 1995 at Worsham Elementary in Aldine ISD before teaching middle school in Aldine before returning to Worsham Elementary as assistant prinicipal, then principal, a role she held for five years. She served as principal in Magnolia ISD for a year before returning to Aldine and Stehlik Intermediate School as principal from 2009-2013. From 2013-2015 she was principal of MacArthur Senior High School in Aldine.

 “My vision for teaching and learning has evolved,” said Craft. “The schools I served have all been high-performing Title 1 schools, and our work resulted in national recognition.  As a principal, the work of school improvement is never done.  High expectations, teamwork, and systems drove our work forward to impact student achievement.”

A Spanish teacher by training and certification, Craft recognizes the value of communicating in the native language of the families that she serves.

“My Spanish has been advantageous,” she said, “the ability to reach families without a translator is powerful. You can just see the relief in their faces when I speak with them in Spanish, directly addressing their needs or concerns.”

BA – Spanish, University of Northern Iowa
ME – Education Administration, Sam Houston State University
EdD – Sam Houston State University

Jennifer Parker

Community Superintendent Jennifer Parker
Jennifer Parker brings some long experience to her new role as community superintendent.

Nearly all of her 26 years in education comes in Spring Branch ISD, and largely in leadership positions. She taught for five years, starting in 1991 at Spring Oaks Middle then at Northbrook High School, then stepped up to campus leadership roles, serving as a school within a school director, assistant principal at both the middle and high school levels in Spring Branch, then administrative principal at Spring Woods High School. She became principal at Landrum Middle School in 2004 before going to Hastings High School in Alief ISD in 2007 as principal for six years before coming back to Spring Branch ISD in 2013 as principal of Spring Woods High School.

Parker practices a collaborative leadership style, with a belief in developing emerging leaders, she said, and believes that will help her as a community superintendent.

“(Community superintendents) can impact student performance by collaboratively working with principals as a ‘thought’ partner, feedback coach and support system,” Parker said. “I believe our team will continuously focus on student improvement through communities of lead learners.”

Selected in 2006 and 2016 as secondary principal of the year, Parker said that she’s driven by student success and achievement, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement, teacher leadership and a “relentless focus on providing opportunities for student achievement.”
Parker said that she was humbled by the award, particularly because it’s decided by her peers – the other secondary principals.
“I am one of many who deserve this recognition as I believe SBISD leaders are extraordinary,” she said. And that the award comes from her peers? “Again, I am humbled by their support, and I am grateful to work with such amazing individuals.”

BA – Social Studies, Stephen F. Austin State University
ME – Educational Administration, University of St. Thomas

D’Andre Weaver

Community Superintendent D’Andre Weaver
Growing up on Chicago’s south side, D’Andre Weaver was pushed by his mother and grandmother to become something more than his surroundings.

A “proud product” of Chicago Public Schools, Weaver had another group of adults helping along his path – teachers.

“I had plenty of great teachers who took me under their wing and made sure I stayed focused,” Weaver said.

That focus has led Weaver to Spring Branch ISD and Houston from his native Chicago to serve as one of three community superintendents.

Weaver most recently served as principal of Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, an overwhelmingly minority and low-income school where he dramatically improved student performance and was leading a school-wide redesign to personalize learning experiences.

Before that he served as assistant principal at Walter Payton College Preparatory School in Chicago. He began his career as an English teacher at Centennial High School in Champaign, Ill.

Weaver sees his role as a community superintendent as “interesting” for one accustomed to being hands-on working with teachers and students.

“It’s an interesting role,” he said. “I won’t be on the ground doing the work (with teachers and students) but I’ll be a big part it, supporting principals so they can help teachers and prepare for this new direction of personalized learning.”

But he’s up for the challenge, pondering the puzzles he’ll have to help solve.

“How do we provide an experience where every student gets what he or she needs, every minute of every day?” he said. “And how do principals organize their staffs to be problem solvers?”

It’s all about that attention he received while a student, the devotion to creating opportunity and pathways to success for kids.

“When you have people that do that for you, you want to do it for other kids,” said Weaver. “How can I be an advocate for kids who need an advocate?”

BA – English, University of Illinois
ME – Educational Leadership, University of Illinois
PhD – Educational Leadership, University of Illinois (ABD)


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