Farmington Public Schools trustees last week approved the hiring of a new administrator who will focus on innovation, as the district continues COVID-19 changes and implements bond-supported technology.
Dr. Kelly Coffin has been named Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. She most recently served as Assistant Superintendent for Professional Learning and Innovation for the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District and as Superintendent, from 2013-2019, for Tecumseh Public Schools.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Herrera said the move aligns with a “high priority” to pursue strategic planning and innovation, supported through a survey of 70-80 Central Office administrators, building principals, and other supervisors.
“I had an opportunity to restructure Central Office,” Herrera said, “and looked at how robust a strategic plan we wanted to consider. The Board of Education said swing for a home run.”
’Budget neutral’ position
During the Board’s May 5 meeting, President Pam Green said she talked with staff members who sat in on candidate interviews. All three were external.
“The comments that I heard were, we need to hire her now. That was pretty exciting to hear and see that enthusiasm among our own staff,” she said.
Trustee Terri Weems asked whether internal candidates had applied. Herrera said there were three.
“Based on my knowledge of their work and experience in the district, I did not consider them viable candidates,” he said. “The candidates we interviewed clearly had much more experience in Central Office and had a lot more depth and knowledge of the work we will be doing.”
He said he had missed a district practice to give all internal candidates an interview, and said he would be happy to talk with trustees about what the district is doing to better prepare staff for future Central Office positions.
In an interview, Herrera said the new position is “budget neutral,” after some employees left the district and others were moved into new positions. It also fits with creating the profile of a life-long learner, looking at what skills students will need when they’re older “to be successful in that environment.”
Coffin will work at all levels, Herrera said. “We’ll have to bring each building along, and she’ll lead and support and help with implementation.”
“We have to be very intentional about how we support student learning with technology,” Herrera added. “We were gifted $20 million from the community for technology in the last bond, and she’ll be working to put that plan together.”
Continuity of Learning
In addition, Coffin will play an active role in the district’s “Continuity of Learning Plan,” implemented after Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered buildings closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.
“We’ll have to figure out what it looks like to come back to school next year,” Herrera said. “We have to be very intentional to say, what have we learned from all this? What should we bring forward? We still have an opportunity to learn and grow from it.”
Coffin earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Central Michigan University. She earned her Master of Arts in Reading, her Specialist in Arts in Educational Leadership, and her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University.
“I so enjoyed the time meeting with the FPS staff,” Coffin said in a press release. “We had great conversations focused on educating each and every child. I am thrilled to become a part of the FPS team.”
“I’m very confident we’re going to do great things over the next three years because we have a very talented staff,” Herrera said. “The Board (of Trustees) and I have to focus… We have to give all these great people in our district what they need to get this work done.”