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Leading by example

An interview with Clover Park School District Superintendent Ron Banner

Clover Park School District Board president, Dr. Marty Schafer, administers the oath of office to Ron Banner, the district’s new superintendent. Photo credit: Clover Park School District

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An antique student desk serves as a daily reminder to Ron Banner as he serves the students and parents in the Clover Park School District.

"It is an honor to be selected superintendent," he said in a February 2019 news release. "My goal has always been to ensure that young people grow into and thrive as citizens of their community and receive the same education I expect for my own children."

Banner received the desk after his swearing in ceremony Sept. 9.

The Ranger recently asked Superintendent Banner several questions about the district's challenges and his goals.

Woodbrook Middle School: In the fall of 2020, the Woodbrook and Alice Mann Middle Schools will merge and open as the new Dr. Claudia Thomas Middle School. "Students from both schools will come together in a new state-of-the-art facility," Banner wrote.

Schools on Joint Base Lewis-McChord: There are currently six elementary schools on base.  "Our JBLM students have the opportunity to attend school in some of the newest buildings in the area," continued Banner.

Unique Issues Facing Military Children:  Banner explained that some of the JBLM schools lose, or gain a third or more of their student populations during the school year. 

"PCSing and starting at a new school in the middle of the year presents a number of challenges that can make it difficult for students to have a consistent educational experience," he said.

Banner explained that the Military Interstate Compact -- which provides for uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states -- helps the school district support military families.

Another challenge he cited is when deployed parents return and then take leave in the middle of the school year. 

"We stay focused on doing what we can to help our students stay on track in school even when they need to be away," he continued.

The last major issue he addressed is when parents are deployed. 

"That's difficult for anyone, especially school-aged children," he continued, "and our schools focus on ... providing support for students who need it to help with any social and emotional challenges they may be going through."

In working to ensure educational opportunities for military children, the school district is a member of the Military Impact Schools Association.

"This allows local school districts to work with base commanders to build partnerships and help provide funding that helps our schools meet the needs of military families," Banner added.

The Superintendent's Goals

His first goal is the equity and inclusion of all students.

"We are a diverse community and one of our top priorities is meeting the needs of all students and cultivating their success. Education is not a ‘one size fits all' proposition.

Banner's second goal is the implementation of the district's Four Pillars of Student Success. 

"The four traits are lifelong learner, collaboration, character, and leadership," Banner said. "The Four Pillars are being implemented districtwide this year, and all schools will focus on at least one of the pillars."

The superintendent's last goal is to empower and build the school district into a community.

"We are more than just a collection of educators, support staff, students and family," he explained. "It's important ... to have conversations about how to help meet each other's needs."

Walking the Talk

Banner defines helping others to achieve success through his long time commitment to mentoring students.

"I wanted to make sure I was continuing to interact with kids on a regular basis," he explained, "because the further you get up the ladder of administration, the further away you get from students."

Currently, Banner is mentoring a 10th grader at Lakes High School. The two of them meet at least once every other week to talk about the student's grades and what is going on in his life.

"He's talked to me about the struggles he has had staying focused and organized at school ... and I have shown him new ways to get organized so that he can focus on completing his school work and excelling in the classroom," Banner explained.

"Both he and his mom have said they appreciate that I can be a positive male role model in his life."

In concluding the interview, Banner asks that the wider community "seek to understand and be sensitive to," the needs of others.

"I believe all kids have the ability to learn at high levels and it's our job as educators to tap into each student's abilities."

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