Q&A with Bellevue School District Superintendent J. Tim Mills
With the Bellevue School Board's unanimous vote Wednesday, its official: J. Tim Mills, formerly superintendent of the North Clackamas (Ore.), will lead one of the country's top ranked school districts. We caught up the other day over the phone:
Congratulations on your new job!
"I'm blessed to work in what I think is the most important field and that's education. It's never been a job, but about service."
What's going to be your biggest challenge in Bellevue?
"My biggest focus will be to see how we can focus resources in a way that supports all of the children, at the same time - and this may be something unique to Bellevue - maintaining our commitment to high-performing students, ones who are truly gifted as well as struggling students. We have the ability to acknowledge that children are in different places(academically)."
Tell me about yourself:
"I was raised by my grandmother in Golden, Colo. I was two and she was 64 when my parents separated. I was the youngest of six children. Living with my grandmother was a marvelous opportunity. My grandmother had a belief in education. In her mind, and the minds of the people in her community, the most influential and important people were teachers and ministers. I was the one in my family to graduate from college."
Why didn't your siblings pursue their educations?
"I grew up not as close to my siblings but I have gotten to know them better as an adults. They were older, they had jobs and they didn't have the caring guidance My grandmother had such a high value for education; she made me believe I could do it. I owe her such a great debt."
What role does standardized testing plays in education?
"I'm interested in the growth model, not just looking at students, but following them through the system. Test scores are an expectation and way of measuring progress. Growth is key. Are gifted students really growing. Have students who were behind caught up? Teachers have their own assessments, they are monitoring students all the time."
Tell me more about the academic growth of students.
"I heard a community member in Bellevue talking about the whole child. Yes! We want children to grduate from our schools not one dimensional. We want them to have skill sets strongly grounded in core academics but we also want them to have had the opportunity to identify some of their other talents. Music, the arts, for example."
What's on your reading list?
"Patrick Lencioni. He writes about leadership and strong organizational systems."
What do you read when you're not trying to fall asleep?
"I like good mysteries: the Patricia Cornwall series, James Patterson novels."
Title of the last movie you saw?
"Men in Black 3." For what it was, it was entertaining."
What are you going to do for fun when you move here?
What's your handicap?
"Don't be. I don't get out much. My family, my faith and work come first."
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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