Photo by George Lauby
Tami Eshleman will serve as North Platte Public School District’s acting superintendent, effective June 1, following approval Tuesday by the North Platte board of education. Eshleman, 37, will serve for 13 months while a permanent superintendent is sought.
Eshleman has worked for the North Platte schools for 16 years. She became the director of human resources a year ago. Before that, she was a high school social studies teacher and also taught psychology and sociology.
She graduated from North Platte High School in 1991. In college, she pursued a degree in psychology. She obtained a teaching certificate to make sure she could find work, she told the Bulletin after the board approved her appointment.
She earned a master's degree in administration in 1998 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a specialist degree in 2006. Her field of study was entitled, "Curricula Changes in Response to Globalization."
At the high school, she became the chairman of the social studies department and co-chaired the district's curriculum committee with then-director of curriculum Jack Price. She helped North Platte develop state standards and assessments.
Two years ago, she contacted Kate Orozco, the newly arrived director of curriculum and forged a working relationship, helping Orozco get familiar with Nebraska's requirements.
As interim superintendent, Eshlman will receive $12,700 a month, equating to an annual salary of $152,500, school board president Jim Paloucek said.
Paloucek said the board preferred that the interim superintendent come from within the district.
"We wondered 'what's the benefit of a stranger who will sit one year and depart with a considerable amount of money?'" he said during the meeting.
In February 2011, current Superintendent David Engle announced he would depart at the end of May and lead teacher effectiveness initiatives for Educational Testing Services, a Princeton, N.J. company.
The school board searched for Engle's replacement this spring but the search was suspended in April after four applicants were interviewed. At that time, many potential superintendent candidates had already committed to their current districts for the 2011-2012 school year, Paloucek said.
The board plans to reinitiate its search for permanent superintendent in October, in hopes more candidates will be interested. That's the traditional time for superintendent searches, spokeswoman Carol Allen said.
Eshleman said she will continue to work with teachers and adminstrators and focus on instruction and learning.
She is honored and looks forward to the challenge.
"It's what I prepared myself for," she told the Bulletin. "I love the North Platte schools. This will be a busy year during which we will continue to move forward on our initiatives around instruction and learning."
In his final presentation to the board, Engle urged them to continue to focus on what students need to know and be able to do upon graduation -- beyond academic scores. Engle referred to a "constellation of skills" including a strong self-image, knowing how to conduct themselves socially and how to put a project together and solve problems.
He said the district needs to act with urgency to be a better school system, to "transform learning" so that every student is engaged.
School board president Jim Paloucek said Eshleman has a strong understanding of those goals.
“We are very fortunate to have someone of Tami’s ability, energy and character step in,” he said.
Paloucek said school principals and "teacher leaders" have also committed to taking on extra work during the interim.
“We are appreciative of the ‘can do’ spirit exhibited by the entire staff,” he said.
Eshleman was scheduled to make $103,000 as the director of human resources.
This story was first published May 20 and updated May 24. - Editor