This month, Pam Baldwin began work as the superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Staff writer Ashton Eleazer sat down with Baldwin to ask her a few questions.
The Daily Tar Heel: What are some of your plans to improve the school system?
Pam Baldwin: First, to listen and to figure out what those plans are. We have some great initiatives already in play — one includes our equity plan, one includes a different way to go about the budget process. I think I will take time to listen to the new initiatives that are already happening and working and capitalize on those great efforts.
DTH: What are solutions you have seen work in the three schools you have been been a part of?
PB: Things like watching your time in the classroom when it relates to discipline, when it relates to students being engaged with a core teacher. Some students are in with their English teacher the whole period, and some that may get pulled out for enrichment and reading or remediation, that kind of stuff. Research says that students do much better if students stay during the core instruction and are not pulled out during that time. So, are we making sure students have the right amount of minutes during core instruction?
DTH: Have you noticed whether or not Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools tends to keep students engaged for the full core instruction time?
PB: I’ve only been here six days, but from what I’ve seen, students actually have access to core curriculum an adequate number of minutes. So the next question is where the disparities are. Do preschools have access to classrooms? There are not a lot of spots for pre-K kids across the country and it’s a problem we already know. Research says that pre-K is a great indicator for those students who will do well kindergarten through 12th (grade).
DTH: How do you plan to connect with parents?
PB: To invite them to the table. Some of that is structured through town hall meetings and community opportunities. Some of that is not as formal, and making sure they know that I’m accessible. That means I’m going to answer my emails and phone calls, as well as invite them into a one-on-one conversation when that’s warranted. I hope that I present an open door and that people will be comfortable having conversations with me. We need structured opportunities as well. I hope to be invited to PTOs or great musicals happening or band concerts. I should be at these events so that people can see me there and I can enjoy the great things our kids are doing, but also so parents can have a conversation with me.