Kooiker takes over reigns of Ottumwa Schools

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Ottumwa Community School District Superintendent Nicole Kooiker has only been on the job for eight days and she’s already making plans to eat lunch and connect with students and faculty during the school year.

Kooiker, who started her position [as Superintendent] on July 1, is dedicated to student success and faculty fluency at all levels.

Kooiker says her past administrative experience at West Marshall School District (three years) and Southeast Polk School District (six years) will be applied towards future endeavors with Ottumwa Community Schools.

Aside from the standard duties of the job, Kooiker notes that parents, students, and staff can expect more from her.

Kooiker tells district members to, “Expect transparency, positive communication, [collaboration], use of technology, [and the clarification of] roles [in order to establish a] clear chain of command for various topics [and] better serve [the] district at all levels”.

Although Kooiker has minimal experience with Ottumwa Schools, she says she is already developing goals and ideas for the district’s improvement.

Increased use of college and career-readiness programs through Indian Hills Community College and the Advanced Placement program are already top priorities for Kooiker.

Kooiker wants to prepare students for the next step after high school.

She says that when “all kids go through the whole system,” the school district has an opportunity to provide positive assistance to those students—assistance that will stretch farther than the typical 12th-grade classroom.

Kooiker says the open enrollment system can hinder this process. Since students may choose to enroll in schools that are outside of the district, the district isn’t guaranteed a chance to nurture and educate every child from preschool to senior year.

Kooiker hopes that reaching out to parents, promoting the benefits of Ottumwa Schools, and recognizing the district’s failures alongside the assurance of future improvement may convince open-enrolled students to reconsider Ottumwa Schools.

Technology in the classroom is also an important issue for Kooiker.

Kooiker agrees that “there are some benefits when it’s used constructively as an educational tool… [students] definitely can learn from technology and from each other”.

But she won’t make definite plans for the expansion of the district’s technological programs until she can observe actual classroom use of technology during the school year.

Kooiker notes that the Legacy Foundation’s generous donations to student technology are likely sufficient for the district’s current needs.

Above all, Kooiker is ready to promote change and progress within the district.

Furthermore, she acknowledges the duty of “educators…to keep adapting as well,” and she is committed to district success.

She touched on some issues that have caused controversy in Ottumwa Schools in the past. Koiker told Ottumwa Radio News that she does not believe the neighborhood school on the North side of town will be changing anytime soon.

“I Don’t think the support is there for a new larger elementary school on the north side. I’ve spoken with some of the School Board Member, I think one is in support of a similar school on the north side,” Koiker said.

She also pointed out that through open enrollment parents can choose which school and what type of a setting can work well for their children.

“I think it’s nice, if parents want to send their  children to the new school, they can. If they want to send them to a smaller neighborhood school on the other side of town, they can.”

As district superintendent, Kooiker wants to give students access to programs that will benefit academic and personal growth on all levels.

Kooiker notes, “I’m excited to be in Ottumwa… [I’m] very thankful to everybody during my transition… [and I’m] looking forward to things ahead”.

For more information about the Ottumwa Community School District, visit http://www.ottumwaschools.com.

Arial photo by Jeff Diltz, Soaring Over Iowa. 

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