Willard settles into new role as Asst. Superintendent of Schools
This summer has been busy for Joan Willard. As Principal of Widmyer Elementary, Willard celebrated the school's recognition in June as a state School of Excellence. At the end of July, Willard traded in her leadership of Widmyer Elementary to become the county's new Assistant Superintendent.
She filled the position once held by David Banks, who rose to the Superintendent's seat last month. Willard came to Morgan County as a Special Education teacher in 1989.
As soon as she settled in her new office, Willard had to get to work filling countywide job vacancies so there'd be enough teachers to open school this week.
With 30 new county teachers settled behind their desks, Willard can focus on some of the other aspects of her job.
Safety & community
As the school system's #2, Willard is also in charge of school safety. She oversees the county's school safety plan, which includes a multitude of security measures.
"It includes anything from our badge system to monitoring systems to emergency plans," Willard said.
She recognizes that parents must feel confident that their children are in safe hands when they get off the school bus every day.
Parental involvement is an important part of Willard's philosophy of building a nurturing environment at schools.
Working with teachers and service personnel still keeps her in touch with student needs.
"Everyone needs to keep the focus on the child. If I don't take care of the staff, the child doesn't get their needs taken care of," she said.
"I've always wanted to work in Personnel," Willard said. She added that being Assistant Superintendent is similar to being a Principal, but the staff is larger and the issues broader.
"Will I miss what I did? Absolutely. I loved working with the kids," said Willard of her former elementary school leadership.
Before the job at Widmyer, Willard was Principal of North Berkeley Elementary, which now houses the school board offices.
"It's neat to be back in this building," she said.
"We're all still here for one goal, and that's the child," Willard said.