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Assistant superintendent named

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Paula Dean will replace Kate Thomas beginning July 1

By Kirsten Laskey

Initially Paula Dean felt anxious about her new position as assistant superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools. However, as Dean takes the reigns of the position from former Assistant Superintendent Kate Thomas, that anxiety has transformed into excitement.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I have moved incrementally from anxiety to full-blown excitement. I think it’s going to be a challenge and I love it — I love a challenge.”

Dean will officially become the new assistant superintendent on July 1.

Previously, she worked as the principal for Barranca Elementary School.

Being an assistant superintendent at Los Alamos Public Schools may be a new role, but it is a job Dean has the experience to tackle.

“I’ve been an educator my whole life … this is kind of an accumulation that brings together skills I’ve learned from other positions to help a broad scale of students,” she said.

Dean added she has been an educator for more than 30 years. “I was born to be a teacher.”

In her new job, Dean said she will be an instructional leader for curriculum, technology, special education, ancillary services and will also supervise principals and work closely with Superintendent Gene Schmidt and Business Director John Wolfe.

Before serving as principal at Barranca Elementary, Dean was the associate superintendent for the Santa Fe Public Schools from 2001-2006.

According to Dean’s resume, during her time in Santa Fe, she engaged in strategic planning and vision setting as well as improved communication between the school board and the community. She also implemented more effective policies and procedures in areas such as human resources management, building maintenance, professional development delivery, scheduling and enrollment processes.

She also helped to pass two bond elections and worked with state legislators to get funds for capital projects.  

Besides being a principal, Dean was also the curriculum coordinator in LAPS from 1998-2001.

Before that, she worked in the Zion-Benton Township school district in Zion, Ill.

Despite working in other school districts, Dean said she has never found another district quite like Los Alamos Public Schools.

She said she loves the community, schools and families in the town. While she has worked in other districts, Dean said she has never seen Los Alamos’ high level of function anywhere else.

“I think that is because of the families and the students they send to our schools and the dedication the staff brings every day to their work,” Dean said.

As the assistant superintendent, Dean hopes to continue this high level of performance.

She explained she wants to help bring the school board’s goals to fruition.

These objectives include a 100 percent graduation rate, 100 percent of students achieving a year’s growth in a year’s time and she wants 100 percent of the schools to be safe and civil places to learn.

There are a lot of factors that go into those goals, Dean said, but she will work to identify those factors and to make sure these objectives become reality.

As Dean rolls up her sleeves to tackle her new duties, there are a few things she hopes the community knows about her, including being organized, responsible, forthright, honest and trustworthy. Additionally, Dean said she works to be friendly, funny, kind, hardworking and good listener.

“These are things I want to be, if I’m not yet,” she said.

Schmidt believes Dean already possesses the qualities of a leader.

“Ms. Dean brings a wealth of skills to her new role,” he said. “Not only has she served as a very successful principal in the district, she brings four years of assistant superintendent experience from Santa Fe and she has served as curriculum and instructional coordinator for our district.

“What the community will find is a person with an extensive background in school reform and her duties officially begin July 1.”