Smith, Shreve enjoy richness of MHS
Legacies of Albany schools have joined the staff at Madras High as two assistant principals, Tiffany Smith and Brad Shreve, were hired for the beginning of the '04 - '05 school year.
Neither Shreve nor Smith were strangers to the workings of the public school system before each obtained their administrative certification at the University of Oregon. Shreve's father was a teacher and Smith's mother was an elementary school principal.
The two new assistant principals also knew each other before coming to Madras High. "The story gets better," explained Smith. "Brad and I were cohorts at similar times. Our programs overlapped. So that was fun."
Shreve made another connection that Smith's mother was his principal at the Albany elementary school. Shreve grew up in Albany and Smith in Scio. Both assistant principals worked for a time as teachers in the Albany schools.
Though the pedigrees probably help, both Shreve and Smith have a multifaceted approach to public school administration, cultivated by training and experience.
Specifically, Shreve's role as assistant principal, as he put it, is to oversee curriculum development and testing. In addition he is charged with overseeing Title 7 involving Indian education.
Shreve explained that one part of being involved with curriculum development is the process of textbook adoption. Currently the social studies department has, "decided to kind of realign themselves," he said.
For the testing aspect of Shreve's role at the high school, he implements what he calls, "progress monitoring testing."
"It's just the concept that we're going to test the kids periodically during the term and the course of the year. We find out diagnostically, what you are weak in and what areas are you strong in. What have we done a good job teaching. What have we done a poor job teaching. It's a real emphasis that we use data to support our decisions."
This effort of Shreve's, to focus on the individual, is sometimes thwarted by the edicts of the No Child Left Behind Act that mandate standardized tests.
Smith oversees special education, English language learners programs, and discipline.
Armed with a sense of humor, Smith is adequately equipped to handle what is usually thought to be the most daunting task of the American public high school, discipline.
"We smile and muse at the acronym I.S.D: individual self discovery. We've joked about that, but there's an actual twist here," said Smith.
From Smith's approach, in-house-school-detention (ISD), is really a mechanism for building, "a cognitive model for students." That model is a process for, "having them think through decision making," with the end result to be reconciliation and planning for similar situations in the future. Instead of Draconian punishment, in-house school detention mitigates individual self discovery.
Smith admitted that this process, often personal, can unavoidably cause her to become emotionally connected to some of the problems that students bring through her door.
"Truthfully, it's helping to support children and families in crisis. That's heart-wrenching work. It's hard work and it has to be done," Smith said.
"You're human. I think that there are some levels that you can cry sometimes with kids. I think that the reason that's OK is that families need to know that we're all people. Truly, the bottom line there is that we're all disordered, every single one of us. We go through things and everyone has life issues. That's one of the things here within ... our whole staff, that there is this level of rapport."
Smith and Shreve see this "level of rapport" as an inherent quality of the Madras community. Shreve said, "The kids here are really open and you get to know them pretty well, pretty fast. They're really willing to share."
Smith concurs, "I've been a lot of different places and at a lot of different schools. There is truly no place like Madras. There's a richness here that you can't find other places."
"Change is constant," Smith said. The two assistant principals anticipate the coming of the state budget to see what will shake out for public education this year. In the mean time, Shrieve will have to deal with the limiting scope of the standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. Working in a diverse community such as Madras, Shreve finds himself pitted against the limitations of such a program.
"No Child Left Behind, the standards set for that, says that every kid is the same and they all should learn at the same rate. Student learning growth is a more viable concept than just looking at a certain benchmark that every kid needs to meet. Individualizing that level of achievement would be a lot more valid. There are some things about that system ... that just make this job I have inherently frustrating," he said.
Shreve admitted that he does get to unwind, on occasion, after a demanding day in the halls of Madras High School. His two sons and wife help him leave work at work.
At the end of a long day, Smith goes home to her family as well. "I think I've almost perfected the skill of leaving work at work -- sometimes that's not until eight at night," she said.