Jerri Kemble, superintendent of the Centre School District in Lost Springs, Kansas, knows first-hand the challenges of leading a small school district: She’s not only the superintendent, but also the K-12 principal and virtual school director for this one-school district located “in the middle of a wheat field.”
Kemble, a 2012 winner of the Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards from eSchool Media, sought to overcome the geographical hurdles created by having just one school building in a 400-square-mile area by establishing a virtual school, which now educates 88 of the district’s 350 students.
But establishing the virtual school led to further challenges, as she explained in a recent video interview with eSchool News Editor Dennis Pierce.
“Sometimes a leader has to [be willing to take a risk], and in our district, we had to do that with our virtual school,” Kemble said. “There was not buy-in when we started the virtual school. People were afraid: Was this going to take my job away? How was this going to affect me?”
But those fears proved unfounded, she explained: “Now, we employ seven [of our regular teachers to teach in our virtual school] part time, so they’re adding to their income. While the rest of the economy and school districts are losing income, we’re actually adding students and more income for our teachers.”
Watch the interview with Kemble, in which she also describes how her district has taken a creative approach to training teachers in ed-tech use: