- Summit Charter Collegiate Academy
Burton School district trustees turned to one of the district’s own to lead the district while they search for a new superintendent.
Interim Superintendent David Shimer has been with the district in various capacities since 2004. And he credits the relationships fashioned over those 15 school terms as being the biggest influences on his work both before and after being named Interim Superintendent.
Experience in the beginning of his career as a classroom teacher gave Shimer “empathy for the initiatives that we try to implement at the district level,” he says. Four years as principal and vice principal “developed close relationships with staff through supporting classroom instruction and overseeing site programs.”
It is the power of and value in relationships that convey themselves when visiting Shimer’s office. A simple wood conference table dominates the space with chairs round about to facilitate open conversation. Tucked away in a corner is Shimer’s neat desk conveying an attitude of efficient organization. His desk faces the door so guests are immediately recognized, acknowledged and welcomed.
“Teamwork is integral to success in any organization and I have had the privilege of working successfully on lots of teams at Burton. This has allowed me to see how important communication is to success with any initiative.”
“Most of the work done at the district office is with a team of people,” says Shimer. “And getting out from behind the desk and showing the value of team member conversations around a table is important to me.”
The sparse accoutrements of the rest of the room include a handful of family and student photographs which also point to the Interim Superintendent’s value of personal relationships.
“I really wanted to have pictures of what means most to me displayed, which is family and students. This reminds us of what is important and keeps me grounded.”
Shimer’s educational background has him firmly grounded with a plethora of classroom experiences beginning when he was young.
“Education has always been an integral part of my life starting with spending countless hours in the classrooms helping both of my parents who were elementary teachers. I also married a teacher, who is now a principal, and together we are constantly discussing and learning new ways to get better at what we do, which is educating students.”
Shimer has fostered his own fascination with technology into facilitating the formation and growth of the district’s One to One district-wide program. Six years ago a volunteer handful of sixth grade teachers were introduced by Shimer to integrating Google Chromebook computers into their classrooms. Shimer, along with an expanding IT department, provided physical, technological, and inspirational support for the small cadre of teachers.
That program has grown to today wherein every student in the Burton District has access to an iPad or MacBook computer.
“We wanted to empower every student with the tools and ultimately choices for demonstrating their learning in creative ways,” Shimer explains.
Discussions with teachers and district-level personnel provided the vision to expand the IT department offerings to students and teachers.
“These discussions over the years along with a desire to see how we can use technology to engage students have helped me to really discover the power of a growth mindset,” he says.
Growth mindset is cutting-edge philosophy that allows educators to offer various ways to stimulate student cognitive growth beyond traditional educational thought. Students are given the freedom to explore all possible solutions to a given problem. They are encouraged to try to attempt another way at a solution if and when faced with a roadblock.
This growth mindset applies to Shimer’s method of getting to the best with any situation. His office has easy access to seemingly simple, basic tools as chart paper and markers as well as the latest technology.
Shimer admits to being a bit surprised when the school board approached him about the interim position due to the superintendent’s chair being vacant right on the cusp of a new school year. Shimer began his temporary turn at the helm in early August.
Even so, he “didn’t hesitate to say yes because I have built a 15-year career here at Burton and I am really invested in the success of the people and programs.”
The Fresno State graduate has held a gamut of positions within the district: Director of Educational Services: Technology and Assessment, Director of Academic Technology, Instructional Data Coordinator, Vice Principal, Principal, Technology Specialist, and classroom teacher.
“I believe in Burton and the family atmosphere that has been developed over the years and I only want what is best for the district moving forward.”
Moving forward Shimer has not been given a timeline for his tenure behind the superintendent’s desk. “It really depends on how the process goes,” he says. Board members expressed to Shimer privately and to district stakeholders publically they want to be sure to “really take their time to select the best possible candidate and not rush the process.”
“We have so many great things happening across our district right now that my short term goal is to support the unique programs that are happening like the International Baccalaureate programs, Improvement Science, 1:World technology, Dual Immersion, Dual Enrollment, and the list goes on…”
His goals haven’t changed now that he is Interim Superintendent. “If we continue to move forward keeping our students as our most important asset, we have a much better chance of hitting our target of increasing student achievement and continuing to improve on the quality of education that we provide.”
The Monache High School graduate grew up in Porterville and as such is “dedicated to our area and the students we serve because this is where I live.” Three of his own children attend Burton schools with one more headed for Burton next year.
For family and all Burton students Shimer professes a “vested interest in helping Burton continue to provide the best possible education.”