City school superintendent goes to work | Local News

Keith A. Brown’s office was empty Wednesday.

The normal trinkets and personal artifacts that turn a desk into someone’s workspace hadn’t arrived yet. Brown, who started Thursday as the new superintendent of schools for the town of Klamath Falls, said he planned to enter early on the first day to add decorations that would help make his office a “welcoming place.”

“When they come here, I at least want them to feel comfortable and to feel welcome,” Brown said. “I’m going to warm it up a bit, but it won’t be overkill or anything.”

Brown will also bring items that speak to him and his family, such as photos of his daughters and wife. The Kansas City native will also bring a few things that speak to where he’s been and what he’s been up to over a decades-long career as a coach, teacher and administrator.

“When I was principal, I was fortunate enough to build a new high school,” Brown said. “I was able to design the whole interior, in terms of the colors and everything, it was my responsibility. So I had the first two pictures that I hung on the wall. I still have them and these. will go here.

“I’m just an ordinary person”

Brown didn’t necessarily grow up wanting to be a superintendent. During his freshman year of college, Brown was a psychology student while playing junior college football. He transferred to Southern Arkansas University for his junior and senior years. While there, his football coach told Brown that he has what it takes to be a coach himself.

“I changed my major then from psychology to education,” Brown said. “And so from that point on it was my goal – to be a coach for the rest of my life.”

After finishing his football career in Arkansas, Brown attended night school at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, to complete his physical education degree while working full time. He was hired to coach football and track and field at the high school he graduated from – Shawnee Mission North High School in Kansas.

A year later he moved to Texas where he spent most of his career teaching. He coached several sports during his first two years at the Rivercrest Independent School District, was promoted to athletic director and later principal – all while coaching, teaching multiple subjects and serving as a backup bus driver and training. other bus drivers.

In 2004 he got his first job as a superintendent in the rural independent school district of Thrall. Four years later, he moved to the Bay City Independent School District, where he was named Texas Superintendent of the Year in 2013. In 2017, he moved to the Taylor Independent School District, where he remained until ‘to accept the post at Klamath Falls.

“I reached retirement eligibility about three years ago. Having said that, our goal has always been to get our two daughters to college and then retire and go somewhere we really wanted to live for the rest of our lives, ”Brown said.

That somewhere turned out to be Klamath Falls, where the Midwesterner isn’t exactly a complete stranger to the area. With a family living here since 1990, Brown and his wife have made several trips to take advantage of the basin’s outdoor offerings. He said he has many of the same hobbies as many residents.

“I’m not just the superintendent, I’m a person. I have a family, I have children, I have a wife. We all make mistakes and do better, ”said Brown. “I want everyone to know that I am just an ordinary person.”

A “bittersweet” goodbye

As the experienced Brown begins his tenure in the school district, another experienced administrator ends a long career in education. Paul Hillyer, the retired superintendent of the Klamath Falls City School District, has spent the past 11 years leading the district – nearly a quarter of his total 42 years working in education.

“It was a bittersweet feeling,” Hillyer said of his last day, adding that he was “sad to be leaving”.

Paul Hillier

Hillyer said he was most proud of the “collaborative culture” that has developed in the district over the past few years, enabling “common direction, a common mission that has enabled the school district to better serve our students. “.

The strong community support the district enjoyed was critical to the success of the district’s schools, said Hillyer, specifically thanking the community for endorsing initiatives that raised taxes and directly supported district improvements.

In a video presented At the last school board meeting in June in honor of Hillyer’s retirement, students at Pelican Elementary School made their best guess about what retirement was and what Hillyer would do when he retired. retirement.

“I think Dr. Hillyer will stay home and read a book all day,” one enthusiastic student speculated.

“More than anything,” Hillyer said he looked forward to having a lot more time to devote to volunteer work, especially through his church.

Start with the neighborhood

Early on, Brown said he planned to learn about the history of the district both financially and physically. But more importantly, he wants to go on a listening tour to get to know people.

Brown said he planned to “learn everyone’s first and last names and get to know them better as people and find out what everyone is doing and how they think we can do better and how I can do it better. can help them in each of their jobs “.

In the wake of the pandemic, Brown hopes to get “everyone back to school as soon as possible.” COVID-19 has shaped education nationwide in recent months and Brown said he believes they will implement the lessons learned.

“The good thing, though, coming out of this thing is that we learned a lot of skills that we didn’t have,” Brown said. “I’m sure we’ll be implementing a lot of these, helping and working with kids, especially kids who can’t physically come to school for some reason. We’re better off teaching them now. We have a lot more resources to do it.

Before starting, Brown said there were facility issues at Ponderosa Middle School and some elementary schools that needed to be addressed. Other than that, Brown said he knew the district’s curriculum was the “strongest,” and praised the district staff.

“I was a teacher, I’m still a teacher at heart,” Brown said. “I grew up on administration and someone has to be the superintendent and right now that’s me. I consider myself a member of the team.

{scope}– Journalist Rick Childress can be reached at (541) 851-7301 or {/scope}[email protected]{scope}. Follow him on Twitter @RickOChildress{/scope}

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