Super intentions | August 8, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - August 8, 2008

Super intentions

New school district leader values parents' expectations

by Michelle Olson

The plaque on Steve W. Enoch's desk reads "Superintendent," but ask him what he does and he will respond, "I am an educator." He officially acquired the title for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District on July 1.

Enoch served as superintendent for San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento County for three years before being recruited by the San Ramon Valley district to succeed Superintendent Rob Kessler. Kessler retired after 13 years with the district.

Enoch and his wife, Kristin, were interested in the Bay Area and felt it was a good match so they made the move.

"It seemed to align with my interests," said Enoch. "I'm excited to be part of this team."

He has also worked in the Mead School District in Spokane, Wash., the San Juan Island School District, which is north of Seattle, and the Bonsall Union School District in San Diego County.

"There is more in common between the districts," Enoch explained. "The basic work is the same: to make students successful for the 21st century."

San Ramon Valley is larger than most districts and, with 26,000 students, tests as one of the best with a population of more than 15,000, said Terry Koehne, community relations director. This is in huge part due to $15 million per year in parental contributions, he noted.

"I value a community with high expectations that supports education," Enoch said.

Still, he believes that the district can exceed its current status.

"It's important to recognize that this is a good place. But we can't be content with just being good," he said. "I want to take it to the next level."

He plans to have an open line of communication with the community and the Board of Education to devise a joint plan for "the now and the future of students."

He practices this by answering his own e-mail.

"Communication is a good thing," he said. "But e-mail should not replace face-to-face meetings."

He also advocates sending district-wide messages to parents through a phone system. This is something he will be looking into based on the cost of implementation.

Enoch has been visiting the schools under construction and is excited about the progress of the work. He wants to be accessible and out in the public view. He said his energy, experience, successful track record, deep passion and the commitment he offers make him ready for the job.

"I know leadership matters," he said. "While we can't solve every problem there can be a mutual understanding."

He graduated from the University of La Verne, near Los Angeles, with a bachelor's degree in sociology and history. At California State University, Fullerton, he received a master's degree in school administration.

He got his first teaching job in Pomona working as a substitute in a fourth-grade classroom.

"The teacher never came back so they hired me," he said. "I didn't know anything about the class, but over time I got to know the students."

Years later while at an event in Las Vegas, one night he called the front desk to ask for a wake-up call and gave his name.

The woman at the desk said she had a fourth-grade teacher with the same name. She was a student from the first class he had ever taught. Enoch and his wife met up with her the following night for dinner.

"She remembered things I had forgotten," he said. "It shows the impact you can have as a teacher."

Through high school and college he was a cowboy in Montana who gave tours of the back country during the summer. He got his pilot's license while going to college, too.

He said he thought about doing social work before deciding to go into education.

He has been a principal at all three school levels and says he still misses being at the school sites.

His wife is a retired middle school science teacher. They have children living in Washington, D.C., and California. The couple currently lives in Walnut Creek where their family visits often.

"We like it here a lot. We love the Bay Area," Enoch said. "I'm happy to be here."


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