Allaman leads with a strong work ethic
August 19, 2019
Award: Central Office Administrator of the Year Name: Kathryn Allaman Title: Assistant Superintendent, Secondary Education, Folsom Cordova Unified School District Region: 3 ACSA highlights: member since 2003; Co-director, Curriculum and Instruction Academy, 2018; presenter at Curriculum and Instruction Leaders Academy, Leadership Summit; President ACSA Secondary Education Council, 2014; ACSA Strategic Action Plan Team, 2012; ACSA representative to Washington, D.C., 2012. Kathryn Allaman is responsible for instructional leadership and management of all middle, high and alternative schools in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. She does this with a caring manner and a strong work ethic that have gained her respect among families, staff and the community.  Allaman has developed positive school culture through developing and managing the district’s new position of Director of Social Emotional Learning. She has advocated for restorative practices, and has addressed bullying and inequities. She has ensured every student is college and career ready by managing 19 CTE pathways and has supported technological advances in the classroom through hiring a chief technology officer. A consummate relationship builder, she holds monthly meetings with principals to exchange ideas and is known to send a well-composed thank you note or text message of encouragement.  “In my many years in education I can say with confidence that Ms. Allaman is a born leader with some of the strongest attributes of leading with compassion; firmness, and a strong moral compass,” said FCUSD Superintendent Sarah Koligian. “At the root of every decision is what is best for all students.” Who is someone who inspires you? When I first visited Ellis Island and found my grandfather’s name on the registry, I wanted to know his “story.” At 17, he boarded the Bremen and came to the United States from Slovenia. With no food on the table, he was encouraged by his family to leave and seek a better life. He spoke no English. But he did have courage and an admirable work ethic. My grandfather found work as a miner — first a coal miner and then a hard-rock gold miner. My mom was born in Maxi Camp, a mining camp in Montana. My grandfather died at an early age, never seeing his parents or siblings again. He is my inspiration. I admire his courage and his ability to survive. Both of my grandfathers worked underground in the mines. Both were crippled from various injuries they sustained due to the challenging physical work. A day out of work was a day without pay, so they worked even though injured. My parents lived through the Depression and each established solid work ethics at a very young age. No doubt, they both promoted the value of hard work and the importance of education. My sister and I are first generation college graduates who adopted my dad’s vision that gender should not be an issue in our pursuit of a profession; we didn’t doubt that we could achieve professional success in any field. As I developed a passion for math and chemistry, my parents nurtured my academic growth by ensuring that my holiday gifts came right off of my wish list: chemistry sets, telescopes, decoding puzzles and books about Einstein. My chosen profession as a math and chemistry teacher contributed to my pursuit of lifelong learning. Now as an administrator, I relate my continuing mathematical studies, especially those of fractals and chaos theory, to the dynamic systems that exist in educational leadership.  What is your proudest accomplishment? I am so proud to be an educational leader and have discovered that a reliance on the self-reflective process has contributed to my continual personal growth. Reflecting on my successes and failures, I find that hindsight brings focus to the most valuable of these life lessons; I call these my non-negotiables. I maintain an awareness of my moral code of ethics in order to make decisions that allow me to sleep at night. My analytical skills require continual fine-tuning so that I am able to hear what isn’t being said. I continually work to improve my coaching strategies, conflict mediation tactics and political finesse. And I continue to be amazed as to how much I know that is not written anywhere.   I have been fortunate to have worked with leadership team members with very distinct leadership styles. I learned to adapt to the style of a team and to be flexible. I have learned that communication is a key to success and that I prefer that someone “give it to me straight” rather than “sugar coat” it — it only stings for a minute.   I learned that all issues have two sides, perception is everything, nobody is ever guilty, and consistency is key. I have learned to pace myself in order to survive, that administrators don’t get a lunch break, and no matter how much I do, it’s never enough. In dealing with adults, I have learned that boundaries need to be specified (more than once), the obvious is not always so, age and intelligence do not progress at the same rate, we all have issues, and listening is an art. I have learned that as an administrator I am responsible for maintaining a positive environment because people follow my lead. I understand that others need me to listen. Lots of people trust me with confidences, but I can burden very few with my troubles. I have learned to trust my intuition and to make decisions based on the law and my heart. I remind myself daily that I can make a positive difference in the lives of those with whom I work. I make many decisions within the day, answer lots of questions, control lots of issues, and tell people what to do.  I have learned that my school family is important, but my personal family needs to come first. I cannot be too tired for my own daughter’s crises or too crabby to listen to my husband’s events of the day. I need to be attentive to my mother, love my sister, and pull weeds and deadhead roses on the weekend. No matter what happens during the day, I need to unwind on the drive home, and put my frustrations on hold. I don’t always need to be right.  I need to learn to treasure time with friends and loved ones, argue less, and be satisfied with someone else being in charge. I need to value the advice of others and be less afraid of change. I need to remember that the most important things in life are not “things” and good husbands are not easy to find. If I have my priorities straight, I will remember, for the good of all, that being an administrator ends when I get home.
ACSA 2019 Central Office Administrator of the Year Kathryn Allaman.
Kathryn Allaman, center, with her staff at Folsom-Cordova Unified School District.

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