With nearly 35 years of experience in education, Klepcyk knows first-hand about fighting the status quo, something she had the opportunity to do as a teacher, and ultimately as a principal, at Quest Early College High School in the Humble school district. For a while, Klepcyk says, educators at Quest were able to try some highly unconventional teaching techniques.
“That school changed my life,” she says. “We had a completely integrated curriculum in which all the disciplines were taught together. We tried to be generalists. The experience made me keenly interested in education issues and reform of public education.”
Klepcyk views teaching as a human endeavor and says principals ought to establish school culture that first acknowledges students as people.
“We shouldn’t just care about how much they learn in math, science, or whether or not they learn to read. Those are critical aspects, but we’re also trying to develop people. We have to treat those things equally.”
In 2012, Klepcyk – who holds a masters degree in higher education with a concentration in English – was selected for sponsorship by Raise Your Hand Texas to participate in the Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Business Fellowship Program (REEP) for educators who desire to learn how to apply business theories to the public school setting. The program aligned with Klepcyk’s philosophy on education and her outside-the-box leadership leanings.
“REEP helped me think about this idea of breaking the mold in terms of reform and leadership,” she said. “There really are some things we can improve if we thought about ourselves differently. There are some things businesses do when thinking about productivity – studying a process to improve their bottom lines. How can we do that in schools? I’m not saying it will solve everything in education, but it gave me new paradigms for thinking that I can apply as an educator.”
REEP also offered an impressive principal networking opportunity, Klepcyk said. She was heartened by the business community’s genuine interest in the success of public schools. But that success, she believes, will only come with reform.
“When I think of a growth plan for a school, it’s about student learning. What are we doing to impact student learning and help students grow? Change is coming – more slowly in some places than others, but it’s coming.”