In a unanimous vote held by School Board Trustees last May, Susan Andreas-Bervel was named the new superintendent for Tehachapi Unified School District. Andreas-Bervel replaced the former superintendent, Lisa Gilbert, taking the helm as of July 1.
The new superintendent comes to TUSD with a bevy of experience as the former assistant superintendent of the Wasco Elementary School District.
She says she has a clear vision concerning the goals she wishes to achieve while serving her position.
"One of my first goals is to make sure that our schools are safe," said Andreas-Bervel. "A safe school environment is one of the foundational things that we do. The kids need to feel safe, and the staff needs to feel safe, so safety is one of our biggest concerns."
Andreas-Bervel is also passionate about preparing students for whatever challenges they will face in the future.
"When this opportunity presented itself, I was really excited to get into a unified school district where we have the opportunity to have a cohesive program for students, so that from kindergarten on up, we are preparing kids with the vision of having them graduating from high school and being ready for the challenges of college and career," she said.
"I think that is what my ultimate focus and goal is, in that everything that we do, we are putting kids towards that so that they are ready for that. That is something that we are working towards, so that every single grade and every level of the system, we are really working towards preparing those kids so that they are ready for challenge of the next grade, and ready for high school graduation," she noted.
Another goal the new superintendent wishes to achieve is the implementation of Common Core -- the federal educational initiative that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade.
"We have done a lot of professional development around the Common Core, and have purchased common core math textbooks, making sure that the staff has what they need and the support and training that they need in order to make that move into implementing common core in mathematics. The new textbooks will be going into use as of the first day of school on Aug. 13."
Also of importance to the new superintendent is staying connected with the community through communication.
"I think one of the other goals that I have is celebrating our successes and letting the community know the good things that we have going on here, what we are doing to promote our programs," she said. "Every person that I meet, and the more that I learn, I have found we have so many things that we are doing that are exciting... how we are really opening up the STEM pieces for our students so that our students are being exposed to the science, technology, engineering and mathematic programs that can open the doors for them for careers down the road. That's a really big piece of what this community has as a basis."
Andreas-Bervel said that TUSD declining enrollment due to the increase in charter schools opening locally is a concern. With school funding based on attendance, students lost to charter or private schools mean fewer dollars for the district.
"We are looking at what kinds of things are attracting parents to go to a charter school," she said. "We are trying to determine what things we can do as a district to provide parents with that same kind of opportunity so that we can address the declining enrollment. Parents are exercising choices, and making decisions about where they want to put their children or if they want to home-school their children. We have to look at what parents are wanting to see how we can respond to it and possibly provide programs that are just as attractive to them as they may find with a charter school choice.
"I think the declining enrollment is definitely a challenge," she added. "We won't know until the first day of school just how significant that decline is. That is something we are definitely watching and paying attention to."
Finally, Andreas-Bervel addressed the issue of money.
"Budget is always a concern to make sure that we are looking at what funding we get and how we are spending it so that we are providing the best programs possible with the funding that we do receive," she said.