Dr. Colleen Moran, superintendent of North Montgomery Community School Corporation, has been named 2018 Superintendent of the Year for District IV by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS).
Moran has served as North Montgomery superintendent since 2010.
As a rural school district with declining enrollment, North Montgomery has been able to make budget reductions through attrition. At the same time, the district is investing in professional development to retain effective school and classroom leaders and paying for assessments so existing teachers can be licensed in needed subject areas.
Moran leads or participates in the professional development, saying “When educators observe their leader learning alongside them, they know I am vested in the district and supporting each of them.”
She has been active in helping redesign the West Central Indiana Special Services Cooperative and the West Central Career and Technical Education Cooperative so these two entities can better deliver services to students from North Montgomery and other nearby school districts.
Before becoming superintendent, Moran served as the director of curriculum and assistant superintendent in the district from 2001 to 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University/Purdue University-Indianapolis, her master’s degree from Butler University, and a Ph.D. from Indiana State University.
District IV includes Benton, Clay, Fountain, Greene, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Vermillion, Vigo and Warren counties.
What program(s) or activities in your school district that focus on improving student learning do you feel are the most successful?
I am extremely proud of several initiatives at North Montgomery. The first is our Early Learning Academy for 4-year olds. We are in our 12th year of operating a program that is free of charge. Early learning is so important because this is the most significant time in a person’s life for brain development. We want these children to develop healthy neurological pathways as early as possible. Secondly, our afternoon bonus time for grades 3-12 has proved beneficial. We offer two 1-hour after school sessions for elementary and three 45-minute session for grades 6-12 per week. This time is used for students to make up work, get extra assistance or extension, and participate in various clubs that are not within the extra curricular schedule. Those events begin after bonus. Finally, I’m very pleased to have a daily advisory period at the middle school. This 20-minute period with the same teacher each day throughout their 3-year middle school experience develops positive relationships with a trusted adult, allows for college and career exploration, and will include time for teaching students about their brains and how and why they feel and act in different ways. We are very excited about neuroscience and its impact on learning. North Montgomery High School will be implementing an advisory period in 18-19.
What have been your most significant challenges as a supt. and how have you dealt with them?
As a rural district with a slightly declining enrollment, funding is a constant concern. We have managed this by consolidating resources with our other county and area schools. We share a special education cooperative, career and technical education cooperative, and educational service center. We also work smarter by coordinating professional development. This is not only more cost effective, but the networking with other teachers enhances the training.
If you could improve one aspect of K-12 Education today, what would it be and what changes would you make?
If it were just one aspect of K-12 education, I would end the absurdity of standardized testing. It has been the ruination of developing a well-rounded student, depleted the pool of teaching candidates, and unfairly compared schools. The assessments have been misused in measuring student success, teacher ability and quality of schools.
What advice would you give to aspiring or beginning superintendents?
I would suggest that any new or aspiring district level leader find a great mentor. If aspiring, spend a fair amount of time with a superintendent to observe the many duties necessary to fulfill the role. A mentor is essential to any new superintendent. I would suggest attending and networking as often as possible. It is harder than ever to get away from the office, however, we must find time to talk with others. I often find when I do, that there are more efficient ways to do things.