Q & A with April Domine
Taking education into the 21st century
New Albany Plain Local Schools’ new superintendent, April Domine, was drawn back to working in a public school system by the district’s vision to be a “leader in reinventing education” and the community’s commitment to lifelong learning. The former superintendent at Big Walnut returned to the superintendency after heading an initiative that leveraged the strengths of 24 Ohio Appalachian schools to form a collaborative education model. The groundbreaking effort was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Why did you accept the position at New Albany Plain Local Schools?
After my consulting experiences, I was anxious to get back into a district and work directly with students, parents and the community. I was immediately drawn to the district’s passion to be a leader in reinventing education. There is a tremendous commitment on the part of the board of education, faculty and parents as well as the entire community to take education into the 21st century and make the schools a centerpiece of lifelong learning.
What assets set New Albany apart from other schools and communities?
The schools have a rich tradition in the arts and strong collaborations with community partners that bring remarkable outside expertise into our schools. Whether it is visiting artists performing at the McCoy Center or guest lecturers like Dr. Martin Luther King’s counsel/speechwriter, Clarence Jones and playwright, Wendy Wasserstrom, these one-of-a-kind opportunities dramatically contribute to the educational experience for our students and give them an opportunity to learn alongside their parents. Of course, the passion and caliber of the teaching staff, the amazing students, the dedication of parents and the active engagement of the business community are extraordinary.
How can schools help to develop intellectually curious students?
Cultivating entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual curiosity is at the heart of reinventing education. Our goal is to put students at the center of this model and give them the opportunity to self direct their learning while we help guide them to pursue their passions and their interests. When this is done in the context of high academic expectations and real world problem-solving I think that we get to the heart of learning, service and leadership. For example, our first graders are learning social studies and reading by solving problems like the massive deterioration of the Rwandan rainforest.
What makes a community innovative?
I think it is the willingness of members of the community, whether it is businesses, civic organizations or government, to expand beyond traditional roles and responsibilities and forge partnerships that encourage experimentation and creativity. There has to be a comfort level with the fact that you may not have the right answers. But, ultimately, that dynamic tension frees people to challenge ‘business as usual’ and pursue new ideas. And, that cross pollination of ideas is very evident in New Albany.
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