2012-05-17 / News

After a decade, principal no more

Beginning in July, Kathy Almanzor takes over as director of curriculum
BY ALEXANDER RAEBURN

Kathy Almanzor has known for most of her life that education is her passion. “I knew I was going to be a teacher when I was 5 years old,” she said “There was never a question in my mind. I’m kind of lucky. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Almanzor has spent 26 of her 35 years as an educator working for the Jamestown School Department.

The last 10 of those years have been split between the Melrose Avenue and Lawn Avenue schools in the role of principal. On the first of July, she will begin working in the newly formed position of director of curriculum, assessment and professional development.

“The instructional leadership end has always been the great part of being a principal, so I’m excited that’s really going to be the majority of my focus now in my role,” she said. “I will be working closely with teachers on curriculum, on what assessments they’ll be using, and even in classroom coaching with them as they’re working through the new curriculum.”

She said her shift in positions will allow her to work with both the schools simultaneously.

“I knew that Kathy was interested in this position,” said Superintendent Marcia Lukon.

There were 32 applicants for the position, from all across the country, but Almanzor definitely was the most qualified candidate, according to Lukon. “Frankly, if she hadn’t accepted the position, I would have had to go back out and advertise because there wasn’t anybody else that had nearly the qualifications that she had.”

Lukon said that the department knew specifically what it needed, and there was deadline pressure.

We had a very tight timeline to be able to develop new curriculum and that curriculum has to be guaranteed and viable,” she said. It’s a requirement of the new national Common Core Standards. Lukon said that the district does not currently have have curriculum that meets the criteria.

“A critical piece of this is the professional development that [Almanzor] will be providing teachers, and that includes coaching,” said Lukon. “She will be going into the classrooms and helping the teachers to learn and to implement these new curriculums. I really think that the teachers are very pleased that the she is the person that they’re going to be working with. I think they understand how big a job this is”

She added,

“Writing curriculum requires a great deal of knowledge and skill, and training.”

Cathy Kaiser, chairwoman of the School Committee, has known Almanzor since she was her own children’s math teacher during their time in middle school.

“Kathy is a stellar principal,” said Kaiser. “It’s a loss to the school that she’s not continuing as principal. However, it’s such a dire need that we have right now for this curriculum directorship, and that is her forte. She has a passion for it, and she has the skillset and the knowledge for it. Most important of all, she has the trust of the teachers and she’s going to be able to transition into this position seamlessly, where as, had we hired somebody from the outside, it would have been a much bigger hurdle to overcome.”

Kaiser said she was thrilled that Almanzor applied for the position. She added that the School Committee on May 3 had “absolutely no hesitation” accepting the superintendent’s recommendation to hire her.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Kaider said. “I think she was ready to move on to a new challenge and we embrace that fact. More importantly, it really fits the needs of the district right now.”

From its time in kindergarten, Almanzor has watched the growth and development of her current eighth-grade class at Lawn Avenue School. “I’ve been with them all the way through,” she said.

The most difficult part of this shift, said Almanzor, will be less time with the children she’s worked so closely with over the years. “I feel I will have a different relationship with the kids, so that’s the part, of course, that’s the hardest of all,” she said. “That’s the only drawback for me.”

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