After lower than two months on the job, Sean Maika already has made the North East Unbiased Faculty District superintendent’s workplace his personal, filling the cabinets with private belongings. A stuffed Mountie toy sits on a shelf subsequent to different trinkets from Canada, Maika’s residence nation. Books fill a big part of cabinets, and antlers and license plates from the yr he was born are held on the wall.
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The private gadgets scattered all through his workplace present extra of the brand new superintendent’s character than one would collect from a typical faculty board assembly, the place for the previous a number of years Maika has sat simply off the dais as a member of the central workplace management workforce.
Up till now, he’s been a quiet and contemplative presence in district conferences, describing himself as a “robust observer” who likes to take a seat quietly and assume earlier than making an assumption or remark.
“I feel there’s a lot that we will study, and I consider wholeheartedly in listening to know earlier than I want to reply,” Maika stated.
The brand new NEISD chief stated district officers should pay attention now greater than ever as a way to reply to the district’s No. 1 problem: competitors from constitution faculties. In 2018-19, about 7,600 college students zoned to attend NEISD faculties enrolled elsewhere; most selected to attend IDEA Public Faculties, Foundation Texas, and Nice Hearts Texas.
To deal with the rising array of instructional decisions households have, Maika advised the Rivard Report that NEISD should do a greater job of explaining what choices NEISD can supply and displaying mother and father the advantages of present choices. It isn’t about including a menu of latest packages, however about specializing in those which are already working nicely for district households, he stated.
“Being related and being nimble in a aggressive surroundings, not only for us however for many districts, goes to be one thing that all of us need to tackle,” Maika stated.
It’s a problem Maika is keen to take up as he takes the reins from Brian Gottardy, who led the district for eight years earlier than saying his retirement in January.
Though he holds an interim title, the everlasting job is more likely to be his, and NEISD trustees can select to make Maika’s title everlasting in December.
A imaginative and prescient for NEISD’s future
Maika prioritizes recognizing people and utilizing his talents and assets to unravel issues. This emphasis comes from his expertise as an administrator at elementary and center faculties and on the central workplace degree.
“I’ve by no means forgotten the place I got here from,” stated Maika, who has spent near a quarter-century working in schooling. “I by no means forgot what it’s wish to be a instructor. We’re right here to help the 68 faculties in NEISD. As a result of that’s my background, I perceive to some extent and may join with our campuses and the individuals and the struggles that they cope with.”
After spending 11 years within the district, Maika thinks he has a good suggestion of the district’s present standing and the place it must go.
Whereas districts like South San, Edgewood, and San Antonio ISDs look so as to add extra progressive packages or faculties to maintain competitors at bay, Maika emphasizes that NEISD has well-established instructional decisions for college kids who don’t need to attend the neighborhood faculty.
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With acclaimed packages like Worldwide Faculty of the Americas and North East Faculty of the Arts that opened years earlier than many open-enrollment constitution faculties got here to San Antonio, NEISD provides what Maika calls “the unique faculty selection.” With the proliferation of constitution faculties, he needs to ensure households perceive the choices obtainable inside the district.
NEISD provides year-round elementary at Fort Hills Elementary, will open a pre-Okay academy on the former West Avenue Elementary campus this fall, and supplies a variety of magnet packages in areas together with agriscience, design and know-how, engineering, and aviation mechanics.
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“We’ve finished enterprise a sure method for a very long time, however [the question is] is it working?” Maika stated. “Is it reaching the individuals within the method that we’d like it to? We’re within the enterprise of coping with individuals from four years previous to 100 years previous, they usually all need their info in several methods.”
This is among the priorities Maika plans to deal with in his new position.
It’s all about telling the story of NEISD, district spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor added. Packages like ISA and NESA have been round for a few years, however typically district officers take it without any consideration that group members are conscious of all of the packages and initiatives, she stated.
Maika, who has been described as extra technologically savvy than his predecessor, needs to attempt new issues to attempt to attain totally different audiences. A number of weeks in the past, he held a digital city corridor on Fb Stay, taking questions and feedback from group members. He weighed in on clear backpacks, issues particular to particular person campuses, and social-emotional studying, one other precedence space of his.
For Maika, one other a part of remaining aggressive is making certain his district hires and retains the most effective employees. The Texas Legislature’s new $11.6 billion faculty finance invoice, which features a requirement that districts use a portion of latest funds towards compensation will increase, might make that activity simpler.
Nevertheless, at NEISD’s most up-to-date finances workshop, Maika relied on his expertise from near two-and-a-half many years in schooling to warning trustees towards spending all the extra income being despatched to high school districts as a part of the laws. Referencing earlier situations during which the State has informed districts to decrease property tax charges after which did not kick in further income to maintain district operations, Maika urged trustees to pay shut consideration to the longer term sustainability of elevated faculty funding.
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Going ahead, Maika stated the district must be watchful for future state motion to guard the pursuits of NEISD college students.
“This job for me isn’t just skilled, it is extremely private,” Maika stated. “I’ve youngsters in our faculties, so when I’m making these selections, I’m making it in one of the best curiosity of the 65,000 college students, but in addition my two. I would like the most effective for all of them.”
A pacesetter who ‘walks the stroll’
Turning into a district superintendent was all the time Maika’s aim. The day he stepped via the doorways of Lakeland Elementary in Lewisville ISD for his first day of educating, he knew he would in the future need to lead a district. He quickly turned an elementary assistant principal, and later a principal earlier than shifting to the center faculty degree.
Donna Newman, NEISD’s affiliate superintendent for instruction and campus administration, remembers Maika when he was an NEISD instructor within the early 2000s. Then the principal of El Dorado Elementary, Newman recollects an formidable younger educator, already wanting to tackle extra obligations.
“He has all the time been only a natural-born chief and he likes to have the ability to affect what is occurring with the youngsters,” Newman stated. “He has very, very excessive expectations of himself and others and he’s very collaborative.”
Current NEISD graduate Megan Pursley stated she witnessed first-hand Maika’s private funding in college students when she encountered bullying at Harris Center Faculty, the place Maika was the principal.
When some college students determined to repeat the animated TV collection South Park and have a “Kick a Ginger Day,” Maika received wind of the plan and stood within the hallway, making his presence recognized, so red-headed college students like Pursley felt protected.
“He was quick on it and wouldn’t put up with anybody’s crap,” Pursley stated. “He took speedy motion, and he was all the time like that, simply getting concerned immediately.”
Churchill Excessive Faculty Principal Todd Bloomer benefited from Maika’s hands-on strategy to management. When Bloomer was beginning his first yr as principal at Bradley Center Faculty, he was matched with Maika for a mentorship.
The 2 cast an in depth bond that might influence Bloomer’s future with the district, Bloomer stated. Describing Maika as a can-do chief with no process beneath him, Bloomer tells tales about Maika leaping in on issues with out hesitation to discover a answer.
On one event, Bloomer stated Maika requested him who he couldn’t stay with out at Churchill. Bloomer instantly considered his secretary, who makes positive he has lunch, arrives at appointments on time, and communicates with everybody who wants a response.
“He went again to his workplace and wrote a thank-you notice to my secretary with all of the issues I stated about her,” Bloomer stated. “He actually walks the stroll.”