By Anna Skinner
With Supt. Dr. Mark Keen’s retirement dated for March 31, Dr. Sherry Grate, of DeKalb Co. Central United School District, has been touring the Westfield Washington School District to get a feel for Westfield and the schools before she officially assumes her role as superintendent July 1.
“When I learned about the opportunity here with Dr. Keen retiring at the (end of this month), I had always admired the work and respected the work accomplished at Westfield Washington Schools under his leadership and saw this as a wonderful opportunity for me to also grow as a leader,” Grate said. “I am meeting lots of people, and primarily, right now, I’m just doing a lot of listening.”
With the end of the 2015-16 school year just months away, Keen said the main job of the superintendent is planning for the 2016-17 school year. He said the school board will appoint someone temporarily to act as superintendent to sign documents such as selecting teachers and budget development.
Grate served at DeKalb Co. Central United School District for 16 years, seven of which she was superintendent. Before that, Grate was an elementary school teacher and elementary school principal in other districts. In 2014, Grate was elected as district superintendent of the year.
“No matter where you are, it’s important to build relationships with people from students to staff to people in the community,” Grate said. “That’s just an important trait no matter where you are. I think the thing I’ll miss the most about DeKalb is just we’ve always been on this journey together, and I will miss not being a part of what those next steps are. However, I feel my path and journey is just taking me a different way to Westfield.”
Grate attended Indiana University Bloomington for her undergraduate in elementary education and Ball State University for her doctorate.
“I have been very blessed to have this opportunity I have had in leadership and leadership is just a passion of mine,” she said. “Coming to Westfield provides that additional opportunity to take my passion to another community, another school district.”
Along with learning more about the school district, Grate will be visiting Westfield before her role begins to find a place to live in the community she will be serving. Some of Grate’s hobbies include running, sports, fine arts activities and travel. She completed her student teaching in Australia, which she says is her favorite place.
“I’m just extremely excited about the opportunity,” she said. “I want to become as involved as I possibly can, not only in the schools, but in the community as well.”
Grate served approximately 3,600 students in the DeKalb Co. Central United School District. The Westfield Washington School District has approximately 7,200 students.