From the Superintendent
Dear Maple Valley Families,
On to September!
What a whirlwind eight months it has been as your new Superintendent. I have learned so much about our schools, and our communities, and there is still so much to know and learn as I grow right alongside our students, faculty and staff!
My Maple Valley family has grown accustomed to me saying, “We need to go slow to go fast.” What I mean by this is the need to listen, learn, build relationships and develop a deep understanding of the culture, expectations, challenges and assets of this community. That has been my focus for the past seven months. Now we are entering a very exciting phase of downshifting and accelerating into a new year. Forgive the car reference, I am a bit of a car nut!
The state of Michigan has recently sent an expectation to schools that we will focus on a K-12 career readiness curriculum that begins to expand students’ exposure to a wide range of careers and opportunities for school. I like this for many reasons. First, anytime we can expand what kids know about their world, it is an empowering way to make school relevant. As educators and families of our students, we need to support them in giving them a reason that school is important! When kids ask the age old question, “When am I ever gonna use this?” All of us need to have a much more relevant reason than, “Because it is on the test!”. Life is the ultimate test, and our focus at Maple Valley is to give our kids everything they need to pass that test with flying colors! Be ready to help support us in our efforts by letting our teachers and principals know if you can help us by sharing your work in a range of ways, speaking to a class, arranging for your work to come to us for a presentation, or adopting a class with your colleagues to send information to that class about the work you do! There are so many exciting ways we can bring the world of work to our schools. A second key reason we want to think about work options is to let kids and families know there are so many opportunities that do NOT require a four-year university investment of time and money. As a former professor, I love university learning, but in my opinion we have overemphasized the importance of this and devalued skilled professions to the detriment of our economy and workforce. Apprenticeships, associate degrees and training programs can get kids working and loving what they do without incurring huge debt to get there! We want to help kids explore these options. Skilled trades have evolved and they have become increasing technical, which leads me to my next major initiative for our district this year.
We live in a new age. The industrial age has gone and that has caused some pain (particularly in the Valley). We live in the informational age now. Things are changing at the speed of light and we must prepare our students to know how to adapt and change with it so they can lead the change rather than trying to keep up with it. Google gives us any fact we need immediately. That has changed HOW and WHAT we need to teach. I state often, that we must stop teaching kids WHAT to think (facts for facts sake) and begin teaching them HOW to think (critical problem solving for a rapidly changing world). As a result, you will hear your kids talking about their Thinking Maps this year. We are embarking on a district wide approach to teach kids HOW to think, by learning how to deconstruct big ideas and reconstruct them into their own way of knowing, explaining and using information. Help us at home by asking your children to explain how they are using Thinking Maps in school. You will be impressed and amazed at how kids can process and use information with these tools. I am eager to provide this training for all of our teachers and excited to see how it impacts our kids learning!
There is so much more happening in the Valley! I will continue my Coffee Conversations and my Appetizer Alliances this year. Check out this area of the Webpage for updated times and dates each month. I work to have both morning and evening options to flex around your busy work and personal lives.
Thursday 9/12/19 Coffee & Conversation @ Jolei's Restarurant in Vermontville (8-9:30 am)
Wednesday 9/18/19 Appetizers & Alliances @ Good Times Pizza in Nashville (6-7:30 pm)
I moved into the Valley this summer and I am so happy to be a full time member of our community. I am invested in creating the most beneficial, high impact educational opportunities for our kids. Our staff is exceptional, our facilities are first rate and our board is receptive to working with you to build the best tomorrow possible for our children. It is a Great Day to be in the Valley!
Sending you my best wishes for a fantastic school year,
Dr. Katherine Bertolini
Dr. Bertolini brings 30 years of educational experience to the office of Superintendent. Dr. Bertolini earned a Doctorate in Adult and Occupational Education with a focus on institutional analysis from North Dakota State University, A Master’s Degree in School and Community Counseling from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre/English Education from Michigan State University (Go Green!). Dr. Bertolini has dedicated twenty-five years to educational leadership roles in Gifted and Talented Programs, Alternative High Schools and higher education. Dr. Bertolini believes all children can learn and deserve to be inspired and challenged to fulfill their greatest potential.