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Schuetz honored as Placer County Superintendent of the Year

Auburn Union School District benefits from her leadership, peers say
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn Union School District Superintendent Michele Schuetz was honored as the Placer County Superintendent of the Year. The award was bestowed by the Association of California School Administrators based upon a nomination from a peer and review by a selection committee. In addition to receiving the prestigious countywide honor, Schuetz was honored by the regional chapter of the association with a Silver Star Award. Kathleen Daugherty, superintendent of the Newcastle Elementary School District, said she nominated Schuetz because of her constant emphasis on placing students first, even in the face of budget cuts. Daniel Berlant, board president of the Auburn Union School District, added that Schuetz has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to her job, while Schuetz said the award is a testament to the collaborative spirit in the Auburn Union School District. “I think the thing that makes Michele stand out is her constant focus on what’s best for kids,” Daugherty said. “She has taken a district that has been struggling over the past few years and created a number of programs.” Daugherty said Schuetz has taken new challenges in stride and been innovative, both things the selection committee focuses on in picking a recipient. “Leadership capacity, the relationships, innovation — they are looking for forward thinking, and really good communication,” Daugherty said. “It’s recognition by your peers that you are achieving at the top of the game.” The smaller elementary school districts in the area, including Newcastle and Auburn, have worked together to share a number of programs, which she said Schuetz is often at the forefront of. Schuetz has worked in the district since 1986 and has been an administrator at each of its school sites. When she started as a teacher, Schuetz said she had no idea she’d be running the district one day. She grew up in a family of teachers and said while she always knew she wanted to be an educator herself, she never made a conscious decision to become an administrator. When the board of trustees approached her to ask her to apply for the superintendent position, she said having worked at all of the schools made it a natural fit. “I loved being a teacher. I hope I always have the heart of a teacher,” Schuetz said. “I love to also be an administrator. I love my job. You have something different everyday.” She said the best part of her job is watching students go on to do great things, especially those who may have needed strategic intervention in their early school years. “I’ve actually had a student invite me to watch him get his college Ph.D.,” Schuetz said. “I am realistic enough to know it’s nothing I have done on my own. We are family. That’s one of the nice things about working in a district the size of Auburn. We are all a family, so we earned it together.” During her tenure as a superintendent, Schuetz said offering more programs with fewer resources has been the biggest challenge. She said working with teachers and administrators at each school site has been crucial to meeting those goals. In the past few years, she said she has been particularly proud of some of the new programs the district has offered, including junior kindergarten, a title I preschool and special education programs. Berlant said Schuetz’s tremendous work ethic stands out in particular. “We are very proud of Michele and the accomplishments she has made despite the enormous state budget cuts to education and increased curriculum requirements. This award is a great honor not only for Michele, but for the Auburn Union School District and for our community as a whole,” Berlant said. “Michele is incredibly dedicated to the students and quality of education of our school district. She often works 12 hours a day and weekends.” Schuetz said while she does work hard, it’s a labor of love. “I love what I do,” Schuetz said. “I feel so fortunate that I am one of the lucky people that joyfully comes to work everyday. I feel privileged to come to work.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.