Bueno says key to success is loving what you do
Superintendent Patsy Bueno has worked in the Carbon School District for 38 years. She has worked her way to the top during her career. With jobs ranging from custodian to principal, the only positions she has never filled in the district are school lunch cook and bus driver.
And as of the end of May it will all end; she is retiring.
She was educated in the Carbon system and is intimately aware of the inner workings of the district. Graduating from Carbon High, she went to college at CEU and later Utah State University, finishing at Brigham Young University.
Hard work has paid off for her, but she is quick to attribute her success to being in the right place at the right time. Being able to climb the ladder of success has brought her much joy. Her advice for being successful is simple; you have to love what you do. Love every step of whatever you do. If you are in school, love your classes; put your full energy into learning. If you enjoy what you do, life?will be less stressful. Granted, there will be stress along the way, but if you really love your position, it'll work out.
During an interview she mentioned some stories about her days as vice principal, and, later, principal of various schools. ?
She was stressed out to be in new situations, ones that she had always thought would be less than fun. After being in those positions, she learned to love her surroundings and the people with whom she came in contact. Leaving each school, she was filled with sorrow, but also simultaneously felt joy after being able to gain knowledge and experience through her work and interaction with the children.
During her tenure as superintendent, the district implemented new programs to involve parents and the community in events relating to school. "What Counts", an effort to involve the community in the inner-workings of the district, is an initiative that was implemented a few years ago, with great success in the first year. Each year, the number of parents involved has been declining. The district is involved in many ways, trying to educate parents, whether it is through newsletters or letters sent home through principals, or sending out personal messages. Electronic communication has greatly increased the ability to communicate effectively.
The new district Web site was created and put online during Bueno's administration. On the site, each school has a link that tells about events and projects on which the schools are working.
She is really proud of the accomplishments of the previous superintendent, Dr. David Armstrong. He used the bully pulpit to emphasize curriculum instruction. She continued that effort, using data about each student to form their instruction. No Child Left Behind, which was created under President George W. Bush, was very influential in shaping district policies on testing and progress, checking for each student in the district. That plan separated student populations into various sub-groups. Each of these groups is required to show improvement in their learning. Putting children into the categories was necessary, because, along with these new groups, came guidelines as to how the district would handle individual students rather than a blanket plan intended to meet everyone's needs. NCLB still is a blanket approach, but the emphasis on individuals has really impressed Bueno. .
President Obama's plan for education is called Race to the Top. His initiative is going through the states' implementation process. Carbon School District is already using many of the guidelines, but adding the remaining guidelines shouldn't hinder the transition into the new program. Carbon currently is at or below state averages for classroom size. With budget cuts running deep throughout the state, they have had to eliminate several teaching positions. A key to the success of this new program will be recruiting and retaining effective teachers. Keeping classroom size down is crucial to having more interaction between students and teachers.
When asked what the biggest change in the district has been, Bueno commented that advancing technology has been the biggest change, even in just the 10 years she has worked in the district office. Both good and bad results have arisen from the new capabilities. The ability to communicate through electronic mediums has increased the speed of communication and a broader range of material that can be communicated is now available. The downside of technology is that it makes inappropriate conduct so much easier.
Bueno says Carbon's technology department is on the cutting edge, but they wait to have new systems perfected and bugs fixed before mandating changes. Online testing has become a good resource. Several years ago, Carbon High had over 800 students and implemented online testing. The problem was figuring out how to manage time constraints and work out a system for testing. Now, the process is smoother, but everything requires a learning curve. Improvement comes slowly at times, but things are steadily improving.
Improving literacy has been a major goal for Bueno. Federal grant money was earmarked for reading programs, focusing on grades K-3. Now the district has implemented programs to continue reading education. The district has made very deliberate efforts to bridge the information gap between elementary and secondary schools.?Continuing education is important and the only way to have this process run smoothly is communication between schools, so that kids can further their progress.
Gifted children need special programs to cater to their needs, but Bueno noted that what the district needs most are gifted teachers. Teachers who are capable of covering the spectrum, giving attention to those needing special attention to get up to speed and also providing attention to those who excel and who need to be challenged. A love of teaching is a must, but Bueno thinks it's more of a calling; you have to love it and be willing to deal with the problems that will present themselves. Teachers that are most effective are those that absolutely care about the end result of teaching.
When asked about what she wishes to accomplish, she said there is so much more that she wants to get done. She thinks that this, however, is the evolution of education. The work is never done, but the evolving nature of teaching can only hope to create a good foundation for those in the future to build upon. The time it takes to have change come into effect would be nice to shorten, but she understands that change must happen at its own pace.
One thing she wants to improve is the public knowledge of what goes on in schools and why certain situations are handled specific ways. With different issues having to be dealt with, it is important to understand that legal issues, compliance issues, and privacy issues all come into play when the district handles each individual case.
In her opinion, the school board does an excellent job handling their responsibilities. She is sad to leave the district. While she will miss the interaction with the board, with whom she has personal and professional relationships with, she is looking forward to traveling again.
Italy tops her list as to where she would like to visit, once again.