Shay Mikalson, the new superintendent for the Bend-La Pine School District, sat down with BEND Magazine to talk growth, goals and technology.
How is it going so far?
It’s a dream job in a dream district. I have five kids, so this work is not only about the 17,500 that we serve, but four of mine are in our schools. I’m absolutely thrilled to be in this role.
Where do the schools need to improve?
We need to improve for our students that are historically underserved or disadvantaged students in poverty, our English Language Learners. Those are the students we’re seeing that, while we’re having growth, we’re not having the growth that’s necessary for them to catch up or close that achievement gap, and that needs to be a focus.
How do you think technology, such as iPads, is benefitting students?
We think it’s a great resource, and as we look forward, we want to provide not only a 21st Century education, but the skills they need, too. We think it’s a critical tool. But just that, a tool.
How are you responding to Central Oregon’s growth?
This year we’re up about 380 students from where we were at the end of last year. We look for expertise across our community, as well as partner with Portland State Population Research Center and others to really help forecast where growth might be happening and work closely on that.
As a parent yourself, what are parents most concerned with right now?
I think our challenge, or our opportunity, as we look forward is making our system fit the needs of each of our students, instead of asking our students to fit into this system of schools. We’re getting great achievement, but we just need to make sure that achievement is happening for all of our kids.