New curriculum director diverse but focused
Doug Powers speaks from experience when he talks about the uniqueness of his new job.
"In a lot of districts around the state, curriculum gets shuffled around to building principals or other administrators," he said. "In that situation, a lot of things don't get done. Here, my focus will be on curriculum."
Powers started his duties last week as the new De Soto School District's curriculum director. The position had been vacant since Monica Davenport resigned for health reasons last fall.
His resume includes a four-year stint as an elementary school principal in Parsons, where he doubled as the district's elementary curriculum director. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in his hometown of El Dorado.
His latest career move reflects Powers' completion of a school administrator certification program at Pittsburg State two years ago. He returned to Emporia State in 1997 to complete his master's degree in educational administration and earn his certification as a building administrator.
While he relishes the chance to move up the career ladder to an administrative position, Powers said he would miss the direct student involvement he had as a teacher and principal.
"One of the things I want to keep focused on is to get out to the buildings," he said. "I want to work with teachers where curriculum happens. It's nice here (the district administration center). Starside and the high school are next door, and Lexington Trails is just around the corner."
Powers' respect for classroom teachers reflects his own career experience and that of his mother, an elementary teacher in the El Dorado district.
"Teaching is a science, but there's a lot of art to it also," he said. "When you see a really good teacher, it's almost like watching a performance on stage.
"My role is a facilitating role to be a resource. "
Connections to the classrooms are important, because curriculum is more than an academic exercise. Powers said state and federal educational initiatives are linking funding to the local school district's success in meeting achievement scores on assessment tests.
"President Bush's education plan has a big push for national assessments," he said. "The focus is on accountability."
It will be part of Powers' job to oversee the district's assessment and reporting. Of course, he will head the effort to develop and maintain curriculum that successfully meets assessment goals.
He also has to consider the desires of parents, whose goals are much more personal, Powers said. They want their children to learn skills that will help them succeed in life.
"Beginning in August, we will start working on a new math curriculum," he said. "Part of that process is to develop a math curriculum with appropriate learning strategies that will allow upper-level students to learn the math skills they will need to be successful in the 21st century."
The district released its new five-year strategic plan last month that calls for greater partnerships with businesses and organizations. Powers said he already had a discussion with Superintendent Marilyn Layman about finding ways to implement that proposal.
"The state has a big push for school-to-work programs," he said. "Not all our students are college bound, so we have to look at developing apprenticeships and internships that will give them some real-world, practical experience."