Dr. Dickerson Named Milford Superintendent

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12By Terry Rogers

On Monday, March 21, Dr. Kevin Dickerson, who had been serving as the Assistant Superintendent since September 2015, was appointed as the new superintend of Milford School District. Dr. Dickerson will take over the position on July 1, 2016, replacing Dr. Phyllis Kohel who plans to retire June 30. One of the biggest issues Dr. Dickerson will face when he takes the new position is increased enrollment that has led to overcrowded classrooms as well as the old Middle School building on Lakeview Avenue.

“The Milford Middle School building and campus has so much wonderful history; amazing students, families and educators experienced successes there for a great number of years,” History that, in some way, should be preserved as we go forward. Many of these former students and educators are part of the present Milford and surrounding communities. In addition, there is the incredible perseverance and courage of the Milford 11 that must continue to be honored. For the community, I would hope that we come to a resolution that is beneficial for the community and could provide educational, recreational or other valuable services and space for the community.” Dr. Dickerson said that there is a cost factor that must be considered when deciding what to do with the building. Serving as principal at the school many years ago gives him insight into the value of the school and he looks forward to working with the community to develop a viable solution.

Dr. Dickerson said that, although the fate of the Middle School building is an important one, continuing to provide students a high-quality education with programming and instruction to meet their developmental and learning needs should remain at the forefront now and in the future. He said that overcrowded classrooms that could be reducing the learning experience for students, especially in the elementary schools and Milford Central Academy, needed to be addressed in the near future. He said that he hoped to problem-solve with the community and board ways to alleviate overcrowded classrooms throughout the district.

“These are exciting times within Milford and the surrounding communities,” Dr. Dickerson said. “I am pleased regarding the potential for growth and increased student enrollment. This is very much a reflection on the outstanding communities within our district and the vibrant community Milford is. Milford and the surrounding communities are attractive for families and the City of Milford has been impressive in regard to strategically attracting employers, providing services and with economic development initiatives. We have strong business and service involvement in this community and our youth programming in the community is terrific, with many caring adults throughout the community helping our students.” Dr. Dickerson said that these attributes play a role in increasing the number of students educated in the district and that the district is a key component in attracting people or businesses to the area.

There have been several individuals in the community stating that students are leaving high school unprepared for college. Dr. Dickerson said that there have been many successful students exit Milford over the years, but that concerns related to unpreparedness need to be addressed. He said that feedback and data are used to analyze programs at all schools as well as to continually improve offerings to students. He said that the educators in Milford strive to prepare all students who plan to further their education, but it was important for the district to partner with institutes of higher learning and businesses in the area to be sure students are prepared, not only for college but for careers as well.

With surrounding districts now advertising programs they have to offer, Dr. Dickerson said that Milford’s best advertisement is how they interact with and educate more than 4,100 students on a daily basis. He said that earning the trust of the families they serve is the best way to compete with surrounding districts.

“We received a huge boost from our community in the fall with the passing of the referendum and we are very appreciative of this,” Dr. Dickerson said. “To be fair with our community and maintain trust, we must be wise and prudent with our financial decisions. Financially, we need to remain in a solid state going forward. There is a challenge to make good instructional and spending decisions relative to providing appropriate resources, including technology, materials, supplies, personnel, etc., in order to meet the diverse educational needs of our student body. Another key challenge is providing resources for retaining and attracting staff, and supporting them with sufficient technological, instructional and physical space resources.”

Dr. Dickerson said that one of his major goals is to focus on working closely with the community and families, something that the Milford school-community has a longstanding history of doing. He said that he feels as if education and society are ever-evolving and he hopes to keep the district current and on the cutting edge in all educational approaches for students. Dr. Dickerson hopes to create diverse, well-rounded programs that provide students with options to choose from that best align with their future aspirations.

“We are fortunate to have so many students filling our schools and classrooms each day willing and eager to learn,” Dr. Dickerson said. “I believe we have a tremendous team of teachers, support staff and administrators who want to provide a great educational environment and best service to these students. We are fortunate to have a school-community that has been supportive of our schools and want to see Milford School District be successful as well as families who want to be active partners in their student’s education. These assets provide us an opportune time to continue enhancing the educational programming and opportunities we provide our students. I also look forward to working collaboratively with our school board to best serve our school-community.”