Supt. Dave Kerr is retiring from the North Lake School District, and one was found in house with Gail Buermann who has been the principal of the North Lake Elementary School.
Buermann is familiar with the North Lake area long before she became the principal for the elementary school, as she got her teaching career started in the elementary school in Silver Lake. After that she spent time in other school districts teaching, being a principal, and before coming to North Lake was the superintendent of the Crane School District.
She credits getting her love of teaching from her parents, as they were both teachers. She knew that education could be a career and something that can help people learn.
“I love it here and I wanted the opportunity to stay in the community. I wanted to capitalize on the chance to stay here when Kerr retired. It is a wonderful place and I love everyone,” said Buermann.
She has described her time in administration wonderful, even though things have changed since she first started teaching in 1982. One is the expectations of schools and what they are required to teach has changed; along with the role that standardized tests play in determining who remains as a teacher and how well school districts are rated. Also the role of technology has changed, especially for a small rural district like North Lake, which provides Chromebooks to be used in the classroom by students.
“We need to meet the needs of the kids facing challenges in their lives, plus imparting social skills while still being held accountable for their education,” said Buermann.
One of the challenges that Buermann readily admitted about running a small school district is that the school functions as the center of the community, though without the support of a central business district. The school has to be more independent and self-sustaining since there are not many businesses in the area that can provide support for sports, or other areas.
Buermann plans to continue to focus on each year being different for the students and that it is important to tailor their educational needs based on what makes that class special. With the prospect of a decline of revenue in state funding is a concern, especially for a rural district like North Lake which might not be able to cut much without having to downsize staff.
In terms of another major challenge facing all districts is COVID-19, which Buermann said is affecting everyone. She expects kids to return in the fall to the classroom, though the way they may do so with social distancing might mean that changes need to be made to the classrooms; though that has not been decided by the Oregon Department of Education.
“Kids will return to school with a skill deficit and we will need to take time on making that up at the beginning of the school year,” Buermann said.
Buermann said she was pleasantly surprised when she got the job offer and was pleased that there were a number of applicants for the position.
She looks forward to overseeing the completion of the construction project at the school, which will add another gym; plus continuing to partner with Klamath Community College to allow students to take dual-credit courses.
She begins her new role on July 1.