After more than 20 years of military life — frequent moves between posts where we never had the time to fully become part of a community — I was searching for somewhere my family could settle and build those connections.
Richland was right at the top of our list; it offered proximity to our family elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, had an affordable cost of living and an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Richland School District, though, was exactly what we were looking for. As an educator seeking her first role as a superintendent, I saw everything I could want professionally. More importantly, I could see Richland schools offered everything I ever wanted for my own young son.
This is a district where talented and kid-centered faculty often stay in its schools for their entire careers. Students have opportunities to learn outside the classroom — on the field, on the stage, in the shop and in the studio — to expand their learning. The schools and other facilities are world class, providing welcoming places for students and staff.
What’s more, all of this is supported by an incredibly generous and dedicated community. Many community members volunteer in classrooms. Boosters support student athletes, musicians, artists and scientists. Voters support bonds and levies, allowing the district to build or replace schools to address growing enrollment and provide innovative programming that prepares students for their futures.
All of this attracted my family and me to the Richland School District and makes me grateful to be taking on the superintendency this summer. It is a duty I do not take lightly, nor does anyone else charged with preparing our children for their futures. The Richland School Board is in the midst of crafting a strategic plan that will guide the goals and priorities of our district in the years to come. The hundreds of teachers, classified staff, administrators and others who are part of our team are equally committed to student learning.
We already have many exciting changes taking place. We will open three elementary buildings in the next few years, thanks to the bond approved by voters in 2017. That bond will also pay for improvements to Richland High School’s auditorium, Fran Rish Stadium and the athletic facilities at Hanford High School to support extracurricular activities that enrich student lives.
Our 1:1 Technology Initiative is putting digital devices in every student’s hands, augmenting their work in the classroom and giving them new ways to show what they are learning and make it their own.
We continue to look for ways to bring variety and choice to our families when it comes to their children’s education. From an academy aimed at preparing students for health care careers or considering new specials in our elementary schools alongside physical education, art and music, we want to challenge students and help them find their passion.
Challenging students means ensuring excellence in first-time instruction. This has guided our adoption of new language arts and math curricula and our emphasis on professional development. We also must provide the supports students need to be successful alongside their classmates and join them in heading out into the world.
Our staff’s hard work on these goals is already bearing fruit. Our graduation rate is at its highest level in five years. We are seeing improved academic performance from all of our students, regardless of background or circumstances.
I am excited to have the responsibility of this important work, and I know that educating our children is a team sport. I look forward to working with everyone in our schools, our families and our community to deliver the quality education our families deserve and expect.