Submitted to the WPR
Educational research continues to show the direct correlation between student performance and school leadership. This connection is easily exemplified by school administrator, Carol Geyer, principal of Arbuckle Elementary School and Grand Island Elementary school in Grimes. Geyer was selected as the 2012 Colusa-Sutter-Yuba Elementary Administrator of the Year. Despite the complexity of today’s standards-based reform and high stakes accountability, Carol makes the job look easy (if not tiring!) Carol is an adept facilities manager, an expert instructional leader, a facilitator of professional development and builder of teacher-leaders. But most of all, she is a passionate defender of every child’s right to succeed. As one board member puts it, “Carol Geyer exemplifies excellence in education at all levels. She is a continual learner who has raised the bar for all administrators in the Pierce Joint Unified School District.”
Carol Geyer lives, breathes and “flies” on the wings of a “Student’s First” vision. She maintains high expectations of all students and staff, with the goal of surpassing state standards and state benchmarks. She developed Professional Learning Communities to empower each grade level and rotates the responsibilities so that all staff experience the challenge of leadership. This gives every classroom (and every child) a chance to succeed. Carol understands the powerful connection between high quality teachers and student achievement. She has implemented numerous practices to promote teacher reflection on individual student progress. These include mandatory “test chats” and goal setting with each student, grade level staff meetings to share best practices, Action Plans to document adaptations, support and interventions for individual students and a bi-annual Academic Conference with grade level staff to reflect and report on every student’s progress.
As an avid reader, Carol Geyer stays current on educational research and schedules continuous professional development during weekly staff meetings to sustain a “best practices” school culture. She cooperatively developed SMART Goals for teachers, classrooms and individual students, personally provides ongoing staff development on Explicit Direct Instruction and regularly utilizes the ability of lead teachers to train staff members and parent groups. But her biggest passion is instructional strategies. After delivering professional development on a topic such as “Checking For Understanding,” Carol follows up with “walk-through” observations, immediate feedback, coaching and modeling. Her methodology is consistent and focused. Carol tenaciously reworks schedules to ensure full implementation of core curriculum and requires written objectives posted daily in all classrooms for student interaction. She is demanding, utterly focused on high performance standards, yet consistently approachable. She regularly encourages staff members each Monday morning via email in her “ Rev Up” messages. In short, Carol Geyer continuously orchestrates all aspects of student and teacher development in order to maximize the greatest potential of both!
There isn’t enough room to list all the ways that Carol Geyer promotes the collaboration with families and the community. Her daily planner shows evidence of participation and leadership on the Colusa County Department of Behavioral Health Multi-Disciplinary Team, the Family Action Center Advisory Board, and she serves as the District Homeless Coordinator as well as on the Colusa County Community Collaborative Team. She never hesitates to make home visits, she secures funding for a counselor for students not eligible for services through traditional county services, facilitates the fundraising for an annual Cultural Dance Academy and plays a highly active role in weekly Student Study Team meetings.
Carol Geyer is known for her personal code of ethics in both her professional and personal life. She models lifelong learning, is the living embodiment of the character traits selected by the community for the school’s “Word of the Week,” and incorporates a strong sense of ethics into her mentoring of others. As the principal of two sites, she is currently mentoring a VP off site, built a professional leadership team at each grade level, trained and empowered teachers to run their own data reports and scan their own assessments, and completed the Administrative Training for the new English Language Arts adoption of the reading program Treasures. Carol consistently seeks professional growth opportunities for herself, such as Pivot Leadership Training. Finally, Carol goes beyond the normal scope of caring by regularly hosting the entire staff in her home for dinner prior to numerous school events.
Mrs. Geyer worked diligently with Spanish speaking parents to increase the winter break from two to three weeks to accommodate the cultural (and agricultural) pattern of leaving for Mexico during December. Her guidance allowed families to meet their needs while decreasing the number of days students missed school. A public display board in the school cafeteria visually indicates grade level goals in language arts and math, including how students at each level are currently doing on reaching district benchmarks and state goals.
Under her leadership, all teachers have LCD projectors, lap-tops and classroom computers are kept up-to date. A computer lab provides access for primary and upper grades. Older students are required to complete a power point presentation. All grades utilize Lexia for individualized reading support, SRI, and Reading Counts. Students new to the USA complete daily lessons on Rosetta Stone English software under the supervision of the ELD teacher. Edusoft provides ongoing data management for K-6 assessments, analysis, and instructional adjustment. Carol’s conservative budget strategies provide for both short term and long term technology implementation and maintenance.
In short, Carol Geyer is highly involved in leading, facilitating, managing and promoting the potential of staff, students and the community. Her involvement in ACSA’s annual Regional Conference and Recognition Awards Night are squeezed into a schedule full of County Prevention Council meetings, District Committees for Safety, Technology, English Language Acquisition and the Tri-County BTSA Operation Council. Carol Geyer never stops pushing herself, her staff, or her students to be their best. In the words of Christopher Logue, “Come to the edge! —–WE MIGHT FALL! Come to the edge.—— IT’s TOO HIGH! Come to the edge! —— And they came and she pushed and THEY FLEW!” If you hear the sound of wings flapping as teachers, parents and students soar above the Pierce Joint Unified School District, then you’ll know WHY Carol Geyer deserved to be named the 2012 Colusa-Sutter-Yuba Elementary Administrator of the Year.■