2020-2021 Superintendents to Watch-Dr. Kimberly Berman

Dr. Kimberly Berman
Mill Valley (Calif.) School District

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is the responsibility and opportunity to identify needs and address areas for growth in an organization. As a leader of a high performing K-8 school district, I am fortunate to work under the direction of five Board of Trustee members who have been elected by our community to guide and ensure the ongoing success of our public schools. Being a leader means understanding the community and the interests of all constituents while staying truly centered and focused on students. It requires an entire community to ensure student success, and by keeping students as the center of all decisions, our team is able to know how to respond and what decisions to make in the most difficult times. As the leader in this district, I carry the responsibility to uphold our students’ best interest while supporting everyone who contributes to carrying out our mission.

How have you integrated communication into your district’s strategic plan?

Communication is an entire objective within our strategic plan. The development of the Strategic Plan was driven by extensive stakeholder engagement and feedback. Through this process, a vision and a mission were developed, along with clear objectives and strategies for our school community. This roadmap will assist us in continuing to refine and improve all that we offer to each and every student we serve in the Mill Valley School District. The plan calls out our achievements as well as the action steps we believe are necessary to support our students to demonstrate the attributes of the Mill Valley Learner Profile. Our communication objective is to maintain positive student, staff, parent/guardian, and broader community support for our district and schools. We do that by widely promoting the District’s vision for all students’ success by effectively communicating with students, parents/guardians, staff, trustees, and the community-at-large.

What communication initiative are you most proud of that have you implemented in your district?

In my first year with the school district we designed and implemented a State of the Students event. This event, much like a State of the District, was a comprehensive overview of our school district through the perspective of our students. Ten students spoke on behalf of the district to deliver messages, input, and their perspective related to our district’s progress. In addition, our Board of Trustees and teachers addressed our community. This event served as a way for our community to understand more about our district and initiatives through the lens of all of our stakeholders.

What communication tool do you enjoy using the most in your profession? Why?

I appreciate the comprehensiveness of our district website. It is important for districts to keep their websites updated with the most up to date information and to use this as a tool for directing our stakeholders for where to find information. We did a full overhaul of the website this past year to ensure the information we are presenting to our community is relevant, easily accessible, and engaging. 

I also enjoy Zoom. We have found that since the necessary switch to electronic meetings, our participation at events has increased tremendously. Our board meetings that typically had upwards of thirty individuals in attendance and now have 230 attendees. I am grateful that our community is taking interest and taking the time to listen to public presentations, make comments, and provide input that further improves our ability to provide the very best education to our students.

How have you used social media in your strategic communication efforts?

We have used Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor and Twitter to send regular updates and direct stakeholders to resources for more information. We have an active community and take this opportunity to pique interest and provide details and information.