October 26, 2021

Communication is key

PCM superintendent excited for new beginning at district

Getting back to “normal” has never sounded so good to local school districts. PCM Community School District not only wants to get back to focusing on practices within the school but also pushing forward to move into the next chapter at PCM.

“Last year, I could really characterize it as surviving one day at a time. It was never a way I dreamed as a first year superintendent I would come in,” PCM Superintendent Michelle Havenstrite said. “My big focus this year is number one improving our communication. That is always something you can improve on but I am really focusing on every single team. I really want to improve communication directly between people because I think over time it will help create a trusting environment and help us all grow stronger.”

The second year superintendent also wants to get information out to the public, whether it be family of students or community members invested in the success of the district. With so many great things happening at the schools, she wants to share what all is happening.

“There are some really great things going on that people don’t know about. Our data, one snapshot of our learning, when comparing to the state our kids had less learning loss than others. I can’t say why for sure, I wouldn’t know for certain but we have good instruction things going on here,” Havenstrite said. “What I am working on this year is just shoring up the processes and then communicating it to people so they know. I think there are a lot of people who wonder what we are doing and I’ve said over and over again they should know how we do things, they should know our process.”

At the elementary schools, a new math program will start to be put into play. CGI Math will push the district forward and begin to really level up what is being taught at the schools.

For the middle school, the district is looking to focus on the basic question of what is a middle school andhow to best reach kids during the formative years. Taking a hard look at how a middle school should function after coming from elementary school and preparing for high school, is an objective for the administrators.

“We are sending a team to study the middle level concept and we’re going to learn from the experts on schooling for middle schoolers, what should it look like. They are in year of really studying what is good middle level concept, what does good middle level education look like, where are we and what do we need to do to level up that space,” Havenstrite said. “The middle school didn’t have a system. If we’re going to put middle school on the outside of our building we’re going to be a middle school that meets the needs of middle level learners and supports families through that.”

For teachers and staff, Havenstrite is very focused on having a work/life balance and staff wholeness. Going off of PCM’s motto “Excellence for all, excellence from all,” she wants to make sure those leading have the support they need to live those words every day.

“They will hear me say over and over, excellence for all, are we doing that, are we working towards it? Excellence from all, is everybody giving us the best they can every day,” Havenstrite said. “I really want our PCM teachers and staff to find that (work/life) balance. My foundation on that is if they are well and whole when they walk in the door and they are feeling supported, they will do better for kids.”

For the superintendent herself, she is looking forward to getting to know people on a more personal level. After a year behind masks and closed doors, really getting to know the communities and for them to know her is important.

“I am super excited to for this year. I want people to get to know me more as Michelle Havenstrite. Superintendency is my passion but I am also a person, too,” Havenstrite said.

She also wants to hear from people through focus groups that will be set up throughout the district. By bringing people in to learn their opinions, desires and concerns she will build partnerships that will be beneficial to everyone moving forward.

“We’re going to have an elementary focus group, we need to have a vision for our elementaries. We’re going to do some stuff with facilities,” Havenstrite said. “I want it to be a celebration, go back to the plan from 2016 and celebrate what you have done. There have been so many things done in the buildings people don’t know about because you don’t see it. Open up and have a lot more community input groups, bringing them in and getting feedback. I think there is power in bringing people in if they want to come in and having them give us ideas.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com