Portales superindendent calls first year a 'good one'
Johnnie Cain finished his first year as superintendent of Portales Municipal School District and feels like the year was a good one.
“I got here and I have very capable people in charge and I am happy to work with them,” Cain said.
Cain was offered the position last year in July after Randy Fowler retired in June. Cain has 20 years of experience in education and grew up in San Jon.
“We had some challenges this year, but we got through them,” Cain said.
What have been the challenges you have faced as your first year as superintendent?
Well, the first thing was trying to find a house here. That was a big challenge for me, but the biggest struggle in the school district was the new teacher evaluations.
It created something new for the teachers on how they are evaluated. We have had evaluations before this one, but this one is more complex. There are more observations, which the principals have to deal with as well. They have to take time out of their schedules to watch the teachers. Also the data to know if a teacher has improved is a year old and the improvement is not fully recognized for some of the teachers.
It is a learning experience to figure out how to work with the evaluation and it will continue to be a challenge.
What are some of the accomplishments that you have seen for school district this year?
We were able to pass the bond and it was a great thing for the schools. We will be building the new stadium, which will really benefit our schools and Eastern New Mexico University.
It also allows us to upgrade computers, which will make testing easier for our students. We will be able to test a big number in the classroom.
The preschool is also a great thing for this community. We might not have gotten the amount of seats we hoped for, but we got 60 more than we had. It will be a great jump-start for our kids.
I have also been focusing on building our vocational career development program. It is more career path orientated and it is for those students that want a job after they graduate.
How has your first year in Portales been?
We really love it. We have lived here for five years in the past. We have grandkids around here and we get to see them more now. We chose to come back here and we have been enjoying it a lot.
What challenges do you see for next year?
It will be the same challenges as last year.
The teacher evaluations and now the new PARK exams. It is what we will be testing for common core. It will be online now and that poses some challenges. It is more in-depth and the teachers have to really follow the common core for this test.
The curriculum will have to be really close to common core. The depth of knowledge is different as well, like the literature and reading. Usually the student reads a story and then summarizes the themes of it. Now the students have to break it down further and go deeper.
What are some of the goals you have for next year?
I really want to keep working on the career development.
Next year we will have a practical math, where students will be learning geometry, algebra and trigonometry, but it will be career orientated and practical for what they will use when they get a job.
I also want us to work with colleges to help develop the program. We want kids to learn important skills and get a job. It is about getting them a career and having it be long term. It is a very important thing.
I also want to keep up the night school. I want it to grow more and I want to see more people be able to get their degrees. It does not matter how old they are or their situation. Anyone can enroll in night school. We have this one situation where a student who was suspended was missing credits, so he enrolled in night school and he got all the credits he missed while suspended.
I want to prevent students from missing out on school and not being able to catch up.