Following former Superintendent Max McGee’s resignation, the PAUSD Board of Education appointed Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Karen Hendricks as Interim Superintendent on Oct. 2 in a unanimous vote.
According to PAUSD Board of Education Vice President Ken Dauber, Hendricks was selected because of she had the experience as Interim Superintendent of the Carmel Unified School District last year. Before that, Hendricks also served as the Chief Human Resources Officer for Carmel Unified School District and as Assistant Superintendent of the Santa Cruz City School District.
According to Hendricks, her extensive experience in education will help her have a “really clear focus” on how she plans to serve and bring positive change to the district.
“One of the areas that the district, I think, can benefit from focusing on is how we support teachers and other staff members in professional development,” Dauber said. “So I think it’s beneficial to the district to have an interim superintendent who has a human relations background.”
Dauber said Hendricks has been adjusting to her new position nicely so far.
“I think the transition has been smooth. Superintendent Hendricks has really, I think, come up to speed quickly on the issues that are important in the district,” Dauber said. “I really doubt that principals and certainly students will notice any difference.”
While, the district has developed three major goals, according to Hendricks, she prioritizes student wellbeing above all.
To achieve this, the District plans to create a system for middle and high school students to track homework loads, manage test and projects, continue social emotional learning (SEL) and implement recommendations from the 2016-17 staff wellness survey, according to the 2017-2018 draft of PAUSD Board and District Goals.
“I hope that we will see a system for [tracking homework], maybe not on system-wide
basis, but at least that would be collecting data sometime this year,” Dauber said.
The second goal is making sure all the student have access to the resources they need to successful.
“Some of the things I’m hearing clearly articulated are around equity and access and persisting with our efforts and our commitment towards [equity and access] and towards the plan initiated,” Hendricks said at a board meeting. “There’s solid work behind that. Continuing that and bringing it forward for review and progress I think is going to be important.”
The last goal is establishing high quality instruction and learning in the District. Hendricks said she wants the district to be able to recruit and retain a diverse and excellent workforce.
“My main goal is cheering on the good work of the District that has already begun,
supporting students to have the best possible experience,” Hendricks said.
According to Hendricks, she plans to make frequent visits to leadership groups such as the Associated Student Body (ASB) and gather focus groups to discuss students’ concerns and to build personal relationships with students. She also encourages students to contact her through email, phone or meet her in person to talk about concerns or ideas they might have.
Along with enriching campus life for students, Hendricks said she will support equity work and recruiting and retaining the finest educators in the schools.
Hendricks said while becoming the interim superintendent this early in the year came unexpectedly, she is ready to establish trust in the community and to “steady the waters” within the District.
Although Hendricks said she does not have specific plans for responding to student input she did say she is eager to implement policies such as open Q&A sessions with students to increase transparency and her involvement with them.