Meet The New State Board Of Education: Lee Ann Kwiatkowski
The State Board of Education meets Wednesday for the first time since lawmakers announced additions to the group.
Together, Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, named five new board appointees last week, per legislation passed this session.
We’re introducing you to those fresh faces this week. Next up: Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, an assistant superintendent for M.S.D. Warren Township schools.
Lee Ann Kwiatkowski says she’s excited to learn more about how she can help as a member of the State Board of Education. (Photo Credit: LinkedIn)
Kwiatkowski (pronounced KWY-uh-COW-skee, in case you were wondering) has a wide range of experience: she’s worked on educational programs for pre-kindergarten through high school-age students throughout her career, as both a classroom teacher and an administrator.
After an 18-year stint teaching in Indianapolis Public Schools, the Indiana Department of Education, under former Superintendent Sue Ellen Reed, pegged Kwiatkowski to run their Title I program, where she oversaw funding for disadvantaged students. She continued to work for the IDOE when Tony Bennett took over as superintendent, moving to a couple of different positions that allowed her to also work on programs for English language learners, special education, and school turnaround.
Kwiatkowski moved to Warren Township in 2011, where she served as principal for the early childhood center before transitioning to her current role a year later.
She says she believes her varied experiences – and having worked with three separate state superintendents – will benefit her as a board member. She adds that lessons she learned in those roles will help her contribute to productive board discussions – for example, conversations about standardized testing.
“My experience this year in Warren, we had to dedicate almost an entire month for testing,” Kwiatkowski recounts. “That really impacts not only the students being tested, it impacts students in other grades, because principals change schedules. I really would like to be able to see our testing get back to be a manageable time frame again.”
Her thoughts on testing also translate to her excitement about playing a role in school accountability
“I believe in accountability, but I also believe that we really have spent too much time testing,” Kwiatkowski adds. “I’m not saying I don’t believe in rigorous testing, I just believe we don’t have to have rigorous testing that takes three or four weeks. With the way that Indiana is moving with new assessments, I’m going to be glad to play a role with that as well.”
It’s hard to avoid the question of how new board members plan to steer traffic away from the conflict that has plagued the group
they’ll soon join. Kwiatkowski says she’s thinks she can help things run smoothly.
“I really believe in collaborative working environments, where I may not always agree with other people, [but] there are ways that you can respectfully agree to disagree,” she explains. “I’m really hopeful with this board that we’re going to be able to operate that way.”
“I really try to base all my decisions on what’s best for students and how it impacts their teachers and administrators and schools,” Kwiatkowski adds. “I really am about putting children first.”