At its Thursday meeting, the Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education gave Superintendent Matt Robbins unanimous exemplary marks on his annual evaluation.
In his 2018-2019 evaluation, Robbins, who will be entering into his third year as the district's superintendent, was evaluated on four out of seven total NXGen Superintendent Effectiveness Standards: human resource leadership, managerial leadership, collaborative leadership and influential leadership. Tom Payne, board chairman, said.
"The board decides that it can do a better job by not doing all of them at the same time," he said. "Last year consisted of standards one through three. This year was four through seven. This being said, the superintendent is required to do all seven of them, but we only wanted to focus in on those four criteria this year. With an exemplary, you want to maintain that. You can't do the same thing and maintain it. Matt is an excellent people person. He talks with everyone with respect and speaks with them as a genuinely important person. He has a mild demeanor but is an excellent administrator. We are really glad to have him."
Payne's accolades were reinforced by board member Frank Riney, who has worked extensively with Robbins throughout his 24-year career with the DCPS.
"I was ready to promote you to this position long before these guys even showed up," Riney said. "We have been around a long time together and have had some frank discussion, and haven't always seen eye to eye. I respect where you are coming from; we may not always agree, but I am behind you."
The key to Robbins' success as superintendent has been a strong focus on developing a strong culture and climate throughout DCPS, which is a major throughline through all four of the criteria he was evaluated on.
"We work hard at being supportive of the people who educate our kids," Robbins said. "I do think this message travels, and we have encountered this on recruiting visits to our regional universities. We have an outstanding group of young teachers hired to fill our positions for the 2019-20 school year."
A major focus on developing a strong culture for the district centers around building relationships with students utilizing social and emotional learning strategies, a new focus for the district, he said.
"We want to provide teachers with the toolbox to best help our kids with life, that translates into their academics," he said. "Good teachers focus on their craft while also building strong relationships with students. We emphasize a team environment where collaboration is the key ingredient. Modeling what we expect is the best approach to making this happen, and we must live by example."
As the next school year begins, he is looking forward to numerous initiatives that will further strengthen the district and provide limitless opportunities to its students and staff, he said.
"We have a number of facilities projects in various stages that are vital to our future from our athletic stadium projects to the new DCMS (Daviess County Middle School) and Apollo High School addition and renovation," he said. "Those are all unique and once-in-a-lifetime projects. We have begun several initiatives toward establishing career academies with our neighboring district, OPS (Owensboro Public Schools) and getting started on creating Ag Academies at Apollo and Daviess County High School. Daviess County and Owensboro have the most robust college opportunity for students in our state, with many students now earning an associate degree from OCTC (Owensboro Community & Technical College) and a high school diploma simultaneously upon graduation from high school (Early College). We now want to expand the career pathways for our students so those opportunities are readily available for them."
But even with the glowing review, Robbins said he won't be sitting back on his laurels.
"I am my own worst critic and a perfectionist by nature," he said. "There is always improvement to make as individual schools and as an organization. I believe in the continuous improvement model. We can be a better version of ourselves tomorrow based on today's results. While I am pleased with what we are accomplishing, I am not content because I know we can be better. Good is the enemy of great."
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org