Dr. Tracy Lorey, superintendent of Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools, was named 2017 Superintendent of the Year for District VII by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. Lorey has been superintendent since 2012, and previously served the district as a teacher, principal and curriculum director. She graduated from the University of Southern Indiana and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Indiana State University. Following is a recent interview with Tracy conducted by Jim Freeland.
Jim: What programs or activities that improve student learning do you consider to be your most successful?
Tracy: A targeted approach to student support services and interventions has assisted students in making academic gains. Teachers utilize benchmark assessments in language arts and mathematics to establish student performance trends, identify areas of needed intervention, and plan instructional services. In addition, at-risk students receive regular intervention in a small group setting. These sessions focus specifically on learning needs and complement regular instruction. In grades K-8, content area teachers and reading coaches disaggregate and monitor student performance data to make instructional support recommendations, as well as planning instructional interventions. Continuous monitoring of student performance and targeted instruction have aided lagging students and English Language Learners in mastery of skills and academic standards, as well as acquiring English language proficiency.
Jim: What have been your most significant challenges as a superintendent and how have you dealt with them?
Tracy: Finding a balance between the needs of the district and fiscal stability remains a challenge for most superintendents. Limited revenue in all budget funds results in an inability to satisfy the many needs of the school corporation. Strategic planning, prioritizing needs, and careful monitoring of expenditures help to guide decisions. However, something must always be sacrificed in order to make something else happen, i.e. class size, additional programs, etc. We are fortunate to live in a community where the generosity of parents, businesses, and civic organizations help to offset the cost of the needs that the district is unable to fund.
Jim: If you could improve one aspect of K-12 Education today, what would it be and what changes would you make?
Tracy: Being a public educator is one of the most honorable of professions. The recent political shifts in assessment, accountability, evaluation, and compensation have eroded the morale of teachers and public perception of the positive impact made each day with Indiana students. Educators should be valued as professionals in their field and engaged in the process of developing the policies and guidelines that affect student learning. Ideally there would be less high-stake testing and more authentic learning. There would be less focus on performance and more focus on growth. There would be less state control of accountability and more local control of measures of school success. This shift could instill a renewed sense of professionalism and improved attitude and morale of educators across the state.
Jim: What advice would you give to aspiring or beginning superintendents?
Tracy: A wise mentor once advised to take care of the little things. Taking care of little things can prevent big things. Invest in people – students, staff, and other stakeholders. Relationships are key to success. Be proactive instead of reactive. Credit success to others and accept the responsibility for issues. Your words and actions should always be reflective of the image you want for your students, staff, and community. Learn something new every day. Put students first. Be a servant leader.