Today, I’m SO honored to welcome my mentor and role model (even if she doesn’t know that yet), Ms. Kelly Jo Simon. Kelly is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (or the CIA) for Western Dubuque County Community School District in Iowa.
Being the Director of the CIA is no small task. For one, the size of the WDCCSD makes it the largest in the state of Iowa in terms of square miles (555 sq mi). They serve students and families from five counties for a total of over 3000 students. In addition to the logistical challenges that poses for Kelly and her colleagues, her role has her also requires her to lead educators and administrators in each of the district’s eight schools in addition to the students in her charge.
It is truly a feat.
During her time in her role, Kelly has gone from trying to organize schools and curriculum to creating a culture of happiness, success, and opportunity. During her tenure, WDCCSD has become a sought-after district for young families, but also for people looking for a job in education.
I am honored and excited to share this interview with my friend Kelly with all of you here at Small-Minded today.
- The hardest question she’s ever been asked is “what is your role?”
- “What are you willing to struggle for?” She believes that this is the question we should be asking young people when helping them plan for themselves and their futures.
- She was told in high school that she wasn’t college material. She said she owned responsibility for the choices she had made to get to that conversation with her guidance counselor, but that helped her forge forward to go to college.
- “Be careful labelling potential in their high school years.” A student/child cannot have their potential defined in their formative years.
- “One of the best and most humbling parts of small town living is owning up to your past mistakes…Embrace it, move forward, you don’t run.” Just because it was your story then, doesn’t mean it is your story forever. The faster you own up to it, the faster you can move on.
- “Our product is people.” In order to provide the best education for all students, Kelly and the district’s admin team have created a culture around The Happiness Advantage. This approach helps teachers and staff find what makes them happy and choose happy, so they can take that into their classrooms and share the same concept with their students.
- And a TON more. Make sure to listen in to the full episode for all the gold that Kelly shares about her philosophy on education and what WDCCSD is doing right to care for all the kids in their district.
Connect with Kelly!
Follow all that Kelly, her colleagues, and her students are doing at www.wdbqschools.org or follow Kelly at @kellyjosimon on Twitter.