When Canton's Assistant Superintendent Lynn McMullin becomes the superintendent of schools in Orange, she’ll leave her fingerprints behind on nearly every major district-wide initiative from the past seven years.
She has used technology to improve communication with teachers, administrators, parents and the community – such as the district website, “WebGrader,” “AlertNow” and standardized test reports. She has aligned the K-12 curriculum and implemented “curriculum mapping,” which allows anyone to go online to check the curriculum for any class. She has trained the administrative team in how to evaluate and supervise teachers and, with a grant, she has trained staff members in peer coaching and mentoring.
“Orange is lucky to get her, but what a loss for us,” said Middle School Principal Joe Scheideler. “Her hands were all over everything. The evaluation plan, teacher evaluation, the whole 'curriculum mapping.' We had very little written curriculum before Lynn.”
The Orange Board of Education voted to appoint her to the post Monday night. Her exact start date has not been set, but she is replacing a superintendent who is retiring Dec. 31.
McMullin, who came to Canton schools in 1996 as the English Department chair and a high school English teacher, has a 6 ½-page resume listing her responsibilities and accomplishments, including her selection as Teacher of the Year in Canton and East Granby and her delivery of the keynote address, at students’ request, for the Canton National Honor Society induction ceremony.
“I bet you there’s nothing on the resume that isn’t absolutely genuine,” said Scheideler, who, as Middle School Principal, has been both her supervisor and her subordinate. “She doesn’t do anything half way.”
McMullin credits the school board with giving her the freedom to explore options and educators who are open to ideas intended to help students.
“If you communicate to the board, ‘Here’s the idea; this is why it makes sense; and this is what’s in it for us,’ they usually give the green light," she said. “Most of what we accomplish in Canton, we accomplish with effort.”
Years ago, when Scheideler heard about a initiative designed to get kids reading more called Sustained Silent Reading, he contacted McMullin to get her take.
In typical McMullin fashion, she responded by telling Scheideler what the research said and how districts implement it correctly and incorrectly.
“All teachers are motivated by what’s best for kids,” McMullin said. So when she presented evidence that a particular path was the best direction to take, she said, she got teachers to buy into a “continuous professional growth” document. This document placed teachers on a rubric-based evaluation system so that they know what they need to do to improve.
She chaired the committee that worked two years to draft it, and then after it was executed for a year, the committee got back together last summer to tweak it.
"McMullin is able to get so much accomplished while enjoying the respect of the board, administrators, teachers, parents and students because of her collaborative work style," said Carlene Rhea, school board vice chair. "She also identifies educators with potential for roles beyond the classroom and gives them more responsibility while mentoring them."
“She can have 10 people in a room and take the best of all 10 and put it into one document,” Rhea said. “She has aligned our curriculum K-12 to state standards and pulled it together in a cohesive fashion. It takes a real talent to listen to different viewpoints.”
And she hasn’t lost sight of students, looking for new ways to challenge and engage them, whether it is encouraging teachers to apply for grants to offer arts, or piloting using high school teachers to provide video or jazz training to younger students.
“When she was a high school teacher, my daughter Kate had her in 10th grade,” Rhea said. “Lynn encouraged, ‘If you do this, this and this, there’s no reason you can’t advance to an honors class next year.’ And Kate did. Kate is a teacher today. McMullin’s roots are, I believe, in being a great teacher. That skill has served her very well in dealing with the next level.”
Canton Superintendent Kevin D.Case issued this statement, "Lynn McMullin has done a great deal of work keeping our K-12 curriculum in alignment with the state standards and has worked collaboratively with our staff to ensure its effective implementation over the years. She's worked with staff to create one of the most effective teacher evaluation tools in the state, ensuring accountability for the teaching and learning process. I have had the pleasure of working with Lynn over the past five years and will miss her professional expertise. Our loss is the Orange Public School System's gain. The process for selecting Ms. McMullin's replacement will begin within the next few weeks."