After a whirlwind week, the new Interim Supt. of Palo Alto Unified School District, Karen Hendricks, is learning to balance this new role with her other position of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and looks forward to collaborating with other educators.
Hendricks was appointed to interim superintendent by school board President Terry Godfrey, partially because of her prior experience in similar positions and her work as an assistant superintendent of Human Resources for seven years.
“I do have some experiences that match the role; I was an interim superintendent in Carmel as well,” Hendricks said. “I’m pleased they made that choice.”
For Hendricks, one of the main challenges so far has been balancing the work of the assistant superintendent of Human Resources and the work of interim superintendent. It has also been a challenge to combine both calendars due to conflicting scheduling.
Hendricks recounts rushing between the office aligned with each role, with many people with many waiting for her assistance.
“I’m really committed to making sure the work of both offices stays functioning well because people need and deserve the services,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks has been working in education since 1988, and has built long-lasting relationships with her students and teachers. For her, the most gratifying part of a career in education is making an impact on their lives in a positive way.
“What’s really rewarding for me now is the long-term relationships I’ve built with students and colleagues,” Hendricks said. “It’s always about working with the kids. It always comes back to that. It’s the relationships you build with students and how you support the staff.”
Hendricks also enjoys collaborating with other educators.
“There are really fine people in education who are just committed to trying to make things good for students and schools, and those are people I like to work with,” Hendricks said.
While Hendricks fills the role of Interim Superintendent, she will continue to lead the search for the next superintendent, who will take over on July 1, 2018.
According to Hendricks, there will be many open sessions at board meetings, community forums, and information sessions to obtain student, parent, community, and classified staff input. The district website will be updated with public information on the search process.
Hendricks plans to critically question what the district needs to work on, what they need to make happen and how they can elevate their performance so that through the course of this year, their actions have the best possible outcome.
She will also focus on positive climate and school culture, school safety, and supporting curricular areas students benefit from.
The goal is to “[[Support]] the best possible experience for students and the working conditions that let the staff provide that,” Hendricks said. “I feel very hopeful about the work we have ahead of us.”