A key position in any school district is the person who leads the human resources department. A school district is no better than the people hired to work with students, and the tone and direction of those hires comes directly from HR.
That’s why Redondo Beach USD was fortunate to have had the services of Nancy Kelly, assistant superintendent, HR and ACSA’s 2013 Personnel/Human Resources Administrator of the Year. Kelly was also in charge of the Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Department.
Alas, Redondo Beach is bidding Kelly a fond farewell, as she prepares to move to her new position as superintendent of Upland USD June 19.
Kelly said she never intended to become an administrator. She started her career in education as a counselor and figured that was what she would always be. Yet, she said she was constantly going to her principal with ideas and served on committees and as class advisor.
“I attended many school activities, and thought I had the greatest job in the world,” Kelly said.
Then, her principal suggested she make the transition to administration to impact change from a broader perspective, a suggestion for which Kelly said she would always be grateful.
Although the impression many people have is that human resources is an area of schools that only affects the adults, Kelly found a way to always maintain the connection and focus on students. She makes it quite clear that she will broach no excuses when children are not succeeding the way they should, and has made it plain to all stakeholders that she will respond quickly to deal with any employee whose actions are not in the best interests of students.
Kelly said she would not have chosen to work in HR if there had not been a way for her to be connected to the students.
“I try to create ways to impact students in a quality way,” she said. “It is THE reason I entered this field. Just recently, we sponsored a fitness day at the high school for all fifth grade students on one day, and all eighth grade students on another. They wore Class of 2017 and Class of 2020 T-shirts. It is one of my best memories as an educator. The kids loved it.
The high school students served as camp counselors. We had a rally to open the day and the high school yearbook staff recorded video and took pictures to save in an archive for the 2017 and 2020 high school yearbooks.”
As a good personnel leader, Kelly always has an eye out for those who would make good leaders. She started an Aspiring Administrators Academy in RBUSD so they could grow their own leaders. In this, she met monthly with a group of teachers interested in making the move to administration. By both conversation and experience she helped give participants a real taste of what school leadership was all about.
“We had 26 teachers who completed the program,” Kelly said. “The curriculum was delivered by in-house administrators and it included topics such as Leadership 101, Developing School Culture, Getting the Right People on the Bus, etc. The teachers had a shadowing opportunity at the end and they received a certificate of completion.”
One of the ways in which Kelly has maintained a personal connection to students is through her mentorship of an at-risk third grade student. Kelly turned it into a long-term commitment by not only meeting with the child once a week and following through with her teachers to see where she might be able to provide assistance, but she maintained that connection and advocated for the student right up through middle school.
Besides her human resources work, Kelly has also been very involved in the California Interscholastic Federation, serving on the Southern Section Officials Committee since 2005 and the Executive Committee since 2010. Kelly said this commitment came very naturally from her 12 years as a high school principal.
“Because I believe so strongly that co-curricular programs are essential for keeping kids connected to school, it remains something that I continue to advocate for in my daily work,” she said. “With regard to athletics, CIF is dependent on people to volunteer their time to serve as members of the Executive Committee, the CIF Council, and countless committees that meet each year to ensure that the programs we are offering our student-athletes are of the highest quality. As a member of the CIF Executive Committee and CIF State Federated Council, I have the opportunity to provide input and shape the direction of high school sports.”
Kelly has been active in her ACSA membership, and has served on the South Bay Charter HR Council since 2008.
“I have always valued the work of ACSA, especially with regard to legislation,” Kelly said. “There are many people who devote countless hours to ensuring that our students have the highest quality education. The fact that this is evident in ACSA’s mission and purpose statement speaks to the reason that I have remained a member for 20 years.”
Now as she makes the career move from leading HR to leading an entire district, she is receiving a high statewide recognition from ACSA.
“I have never been one to seek or need awards of this kind,” Kelly said. “However, I must say that being nominated by my peers in Redondo is the reason that this means so much to me. I was notified just before I made the announcement that I will transition to Upland Unified. My seven years in Redondo have been gratifying and rewarding. I have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.”
ACSA’s 2013 Administrators of the Year will be formally recognized at during the Leadership Summit in San Jose, Nov. 7-9. Visit www.acsa.org/leadershipsummit.