Success Story Panelists
Director of Instructional Supports
Highline Public Schools, Washington
When the administration and select school leaders took on the work of rolling out new resources to teachers, they quickly learned that teacher voice and leadership would be essential to shift a traditional instructional model to innovative practices. This led Rebekah Kim to forming a blended-learning leadership team which represented multiple grade-level teachers with specific attention to integrate the participation of ELL and special education teachers and specialists. This collaboration and distributed leadership gave more teacher voice to help increase a culture of ownership. For Rebekah, this distributed leadership shifted her leadership style from a place of feeling like she had to “call all the shots,” to listening, collaborating and making leadership decisions in a thoughtful manner. Rebekah will give you insights into how she transferred what she learned as a building leader into her new system leadership role.
About Rebekah Kim
Rebekah Kim is the director of instructional supports in Highline Public Schools. In this role, she supports P-12 schools in several areas of work which include differentiation, highly capable, personalized learning and teacher development. Her passion for equity is the driving force and lens in which she approaches these areas of work in her support of students in Highline. Before Rebekah moved to the central office, she spent 12 years as an elementary school principal. During her principalship, she moved one of her schools to a K-6 comprehensive blended classroom model. Her instructional leadership emphasized professional learning culture shifts and how those shifts were needed to create a culture where teachers innovated and differentiated to meet the varying needs of students. She is passionate about family engagement, varying instructional planning for the academic and social emotional needs for all learners, and specifically, how equity integrates authentically in these bodies of work.
Rebekah is an advocate for the work of equity and has taken on this leadership role in various areas. This includes developing an administrator of color group with Highline colleagues, a nine-year member of the Association of Washington School Principals diversity task force, and informal and formal mentorships for aspiring leaders of color. This advocacy is driven by her love for children and her personal experiences.
Principal, Jane Addams Middle School
Seattle Public Schools, Washington
In 2014, Principal Paula Montgomery had the opportunity to open Jane Addams Middle School, a large comprehensive middle school in Seattle Public Schools with over 40 educators drawn from throughout the city. She quickly learned how rare embedded professional learning was, and how terrified teachers were of opening up their practice to one another. Her teachers were great about talking about what they were doing and sharing ideas, but needed to take steps to see each other in action. Paula will share how she and her teachers created a culture where teachers are inviting others into their classes to think through problems of practice. She will share how she developed a studio model structure in both math and ELA. Their efforts and deep work in math and literacy have paid off in ensuring students have the skills and strategies they need as they move on to high school.
About Paula Montgomery
Paula Montgomery has served as a principal since 2007 in both Seattle Public Schools and Highline Public Schools in the state of Washington. She is currently the principal of Seattle’s Jane Addams Middle School, the first comprehensive secondary school opened in Seattle in 42 years, located in Lake City, one of Seattle’s fastest growing areas, with families speaking 34 languages. Paula serves on the Association of Washington School Principals Middle Level Board, and recently served as the president of the Principals Association of Seattle. Paula began her career in education as an ELL/English teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland. She received a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, language arts from the University of Maryland, College Park. She received a master’s degree in educational administration from Seattle University.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
Grandview School District, Washington
When Jose Rivera arrived at McClure Elementary school as principal, he inherited a school in Focus School status. Several subgroups, including ELL and special education, were not achieving at expected levels. Jose set out to create a collaborative culture in the school in which educators used student data, professional learning communities, a building leadership team, and professional development strategies to close the achievement gap for ELL and special education students. Jose will describe a strategy of no shame, no blame, and no guilt which helped to create a high-functioning culture that brought the school out of focus status in three years with all subgroups showing growth on state assessments.
About Jose Rivera
Jose Rivera is currently in his first year as an assistant superintendent of teaching and learning after serving 13 years as a building principal in Washington’s Grandview School District. As a principal, Jose led McClure Elementary School out of Focus School status in three years. He believes it is the job of every educator to continually improve their instructional practice in order to improve the academic achievement of all students. Recognizing that teaching is very complex and can no longer be done in isolation, Jose advocates that teachers work in collaborative teams, centered on student assessment data, pedagogy, and interventions for the neediest students. He received his bachelor’s degree in education and a Master of Education degree in professional development from Heritage University.
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