“I only wanted to work in Ferndale”
FERNDALE – On March 25, the Ferndale School Board named Kristi Dominguez its new superintendent. She will succeed Acting Superintendent Mark Deebach on July 1.
Dominguez was selected as superintendent after a rigorous seven-month search process that began with 16 candidates.
According to a press release from the Ferndale School District, the school board selected Dominguez for her demonstrated visionary leadership qualities, her focus on breaking down barriers, and the fact that she promotes excellence for all students.
Dominguez will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Ferndale School District, including managing its $80 million budget, 600 employees, nine schools and numerous programs and partnerships, according to a district press release.
Currently Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at Bellingham Public Schools, Dominguez has dedicated the past 30 years of her career to education as a teacher, administrator and consultant.
Dominguez earned her Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Washington, a program with equity-focused leadership through the transformation of organizations and education systems.
She has expertise in early learning, inclusive practices and the ability to transform state policy. In Washington, this resulted in the creation of Transitional Kindergarten, Washington State’s Early Entry Kindergarten Program.
What else is there to learn about Dominguez as she begins as Ferndale’s new superintendent? What ambitions does it have for the neighborhood and what expertise does it bring? We’ll take a look.
Ferndale Folder: What are you most excited about as you begin this new chapter in your career?
Kristi Dominguez: First of all, the Ferndale School District, I always admired the district, you could feel a sense of pride. I have always been very impressed and have often said they have all the ingredients to be one of the best in the state. Spending the day with the students and staff administrators just confirmed that. I have always admired them. Their passion for students is totally student-centered. So I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Disk: How do you think your current role as Assistant Superintendent at Bellingham Public Schools will help you in this position as Ferndale Superintendent?
Dominguez: [As assistant superintendent] I was involved in bonds and levies; I oversee different parts of teaching and learning. I support the operational side of the house, special education, student services, security and safety. I supervise principals, directors. So those are all the different things that I will still be able to engage with in this new role. I work with community partners, it’s one of my skills in addition to early childhood education. I’ve had a variety of experiences that I can bring to this new role and there’s a whole bunch of things I’m going to learn.
Disk: What challenges do you hope to overcome and find solutions at the start of your superintendent career at Ferndale?
Dominguez: I think the challenges will emerge as we think about it. I think we need to start by identifying all the things that are going really well and then looking at where the gap analysis is, where things are not connecting so well and I’m going to focus on that.
The first few months of work, I will commit to an entry plan, and this will inform our next steps.
I’ve heard that people are looking for a vision so that’s where I plan to start. And it’s both something I’m excited to get involved in and it’s also a challenge. How to take all this vast amount of information and boil it down to a few key strategies for a vision for the future. But I am convinced that we will get there.
Disk: There is also an opening for Superintendent in the Lynden School District, what made you choose to apply to Ferndale over Lynden?
Dominguez: I just wanted to be Superintendent of Ferndale. I come from a small town in the Yakima Valley called Wapato and there are so many things I loved about my hometown that I see and feel when I come to Ferndale. So if Ferndale hadn’t opened, I wouldn’t have searched. I love my job at Bellingham and there are things I will miss, but I just wanted to work at Ferndale. It wasn’t about being a superintendent, it was about being their superintendent.
Disk: How do you plan to reach out to community members and parents so they feel heard and begin to foster these relationships?
Dominguez: I think we sometimes forget that K-12 systems are just one player in children’s lives. So if we really want to impact change for children, we need to engage with everyone who has a stake in it. What sets Ferndale apart from most districts is simply their collective pride, not just within the district, but of the community as a whole. Our parents must be partners. They are the constant in the life of a child who travels through the system. So make sure they tell us what they want to see for their children now and in the future.
Disk: What do you think creates a conducive learning environment? How do you plan to create this environment in the Ferndale School District?
Dominguez: Above all, I am a teacher at heart, I think like a teacher and I never want to lose that. Because of the impact a teacher had in my own life, I learned early on that if you teach from the heart of a child, their spirit will follow. And so that’s something that I continue. I think it’s really important that we focus on the whole child.