New principal wants students to love learning

September 08, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

This is another in a continuing series of articles about new school principals in the Imperial Valley.

After two decades in the education field, Sherry Kolset still considers herself an idealist.

The new principal at El Centro's Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School went into teaching because she "saw it as an opportunity to work with children and help children." She hoped to better society through the education of its youth.

Now, years later, Kolset, 57, says those same ideals keep her in the field. Her role in education is changing, though, as this administrative position is a first for Kolset.

Her background includes teaching in the Imperial Unified School District and El Centro's Desert Garden Elementary, implementing a technology grant at the Imperial County Office of Education and working as a reading resource teacher at King last year. She earned her administrative credential from San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus in May 2000.


With the help of King's staff, Kolset said the pressures of being a novice principal are lessened.

While walking through the school's hallways, Kolset points out the abundance of glass and windows. It's an architectural feature Kolset thinks enhances teacher collaboration and school unity.

"I have an awesome staff. They're very supportive and collaborative," Kolset said.

Among the challenges Kolset sees for the school this year are one schools across the county and state face: raising test scores. To Kolset, however, the real goal is much more than test performance.

"It's extremely important children not only to have the basics, but that they also have a real love of learning. That's the true challenge," Kolset said.

Also affecting the school this year, as it has since 1999, is the school's involvement in the Immediate Intervention/Underperforming School program.

Operating from the IIUSP-designed action plan for the school is important for the staff and herself, Kolset said.

"We had phenomenal growth in our API (Academic Performance Index) last year. The action plan served us well," Kolset said.

While King is like so many other local schools concerned with academic performance, Kolset said the school's unique traditions set it apart. She points to the bell at the front of the school that fifth-graders ring when they move on to middle school.

"They look forward to it," Kolset said, just as she looks forward to seeing King's students succeed.

"We truly can make an impact. This is truly a satisfying occupation," Kolset said.

Kolset lives in El Centro. She has two grown sons, one of whom is a teacher.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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