Kentucky Teacher Leader of the Month: Paula Roberts, assistant superintendent, Owensboro Independent school district

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Paula Roberts
Paula Roberts

Paula Roberts, assistant superintendent for the Owensboro Independent school district, describes herself as a “behind-the-scenes kind of gal.”

But she’s definitely been noticed for her leadership and dedication. Roberts is Kentucky Teacher’s July Leader of the Month.

“My main role is to support principals with whatever they need to help them create great learning environments in their schools,” Roberts said. “This includes helping with staffing and budgeting, locating and sharing quality instructional resources, and providing high-quality professional development.”

Roberts has served in the same district since 1989, first as a teacher, then as an assistant principal and principal at Owensboro Middle School. In 2004, she moved to a district position as instructional coordinator overseeing federal grants and professional development before becoming director of curriculum.

As assistant superintendent, she also heads the Department of Instruction.

“For the past three years, she has been the leader in preparing for and putting into place the digital laptop initiative that has gained attention around the state and is beginning to get national attention,” District Information Officer Julie Ellis said.

“Her leadership in professional development in preparing both teachers and parents for working with students on their laptops and her leadership in developing 600 digital lessons so that teachers would be ready to put the new technology to work has made the initiative successful.”

While overseeing the instructional side of Owensboro Independent’s digital innovation project, Roberts leads a team that provides resources and professional development to teachers. Roberts and team members work alongside teachers during planning and in classrooms to help them “learn of ways to leverage this research to customize learning based in individual student needs,” Roberts said.

Roberts has several other responsibilities within the district including running the special education department and coordinating professional development.

“This year, a colleague of mine, Matthew Constant, and I worked collaboratively with the Daviess County school district and hosted a Summer Learning Academy,” Roberts said. “With shrinking PD budgets, we are rarely able to send teachers out of town to network and attend professional conferences, so we offered a local conference hosted at Owensboro High School. It was a great event for our teachers.”

Roberts also coordinated a K-4 series of mathematics professional developments in which district staff taught teachers how to implement the Common Core State Standards, including the Practice Standards.

“All elementary teachers attended four six-hour sessions spread over a four-month period,” she said. “They learned many strategies and received tons of materials to take back and use in their classrooms. Currently, we are coordinating a team to conduct a similar series of PD for elementary reading to take place in the 2012-13 school year.”

“Paula is passionate and knowledgeable about her work,” Ellis said. “Her strength in leadership is her ability to build strong teams and strong professional development opportunities for teachers.”

Roberts said she has always had great mentors, and she seeks out the right people to be around. Those are two ways she has made herself a strong leader.

“Professionally, I have been blessed to work with awesome people with a crystal clear mission for student success,” she said. “Around here a title isn’t important; everyone is significant and provides valuable input into how to best serve our students. I realize that I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t hesitate to ask for advice and input from others.

“My No. 1 goal is and has always been the success of each student,” Roberts added. “No matter what decision is made, the bottom line is whether or not it will make a positive impact on the children attending this district. Schools have been given many responsibilities, but we can never lose sight of the main goal of preparing each child for a successful life upon graduation.”

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