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On the job

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian Michelle Rodriguez, superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District, spent the bulk of her workday Wednesday assisting instructor Erin Kirkpatrick in an art class at Radcliff Elementary School.

PV superintendent delves into district departments

WATSONVILLE — Since Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez started her job in August, she has helped a custodian clean an elementary school, served lunch at another and assisted a bus driver on her daily rounds.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez was passing out stacks of colorful construction paper and helping art teacher Erin Kirkpatrick with a lesson at Radcliff Elementary School.

Rodriguez said her monthly surprise visits to departments throughout the district — and spending a day helping an employee at those sites — is a way to better understand the inner workings of the district, and to help her fine-tune policies and procedures when necessary.

“As a superintendent, I want to make sure I have a good understanding of all classifications,” she said. “It helps me have a good understanding of what our staff goes through.”

Rodriguez started the “Day in the Life” sessions as a custodial assistant at Ohlone Elementary School. The next month found her helping to prepare 1,000 meals at the district’s central kitchen and serving them at Mintie White Elementary School. Last month, she assisted a special education bus driver.

For the lesson on Wednesday, Rodriguez was helping a classroom full of first-grade students cut out and glue mouths, eyes, noses and appendages to create their own monsters.

That visit stemmed from a PVUSD Board of Trustees meeting in January, when several art teachers addressed the board about the lack of dedicated art classrooms, Rodriguez said.

Because they don’t have their own space, the teachers said, many art teachers must cart their supplies from room to room. That is a hardship for them and a loss for their students, whose lessons are cut short because of the time it takes to set up before and clean up after lessons, the teachers said.

Rodriguez was tight-lipped about her March Day in the Life visit, saying she likes them to be a surprise.

As part of what she called her 100-day plan, Rodriguez also vowed to visit every school site and department and speak with teachers and staff for a tour she called “Michelle on the Move Listening Sessions.”

“All of this has really helped me to see the details,” Rodriguez said. “I want to be a superintendent that cares about the details.”

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