Oct. 3, 2020

Superintendent, Paul Marietti

Superintendent, Paul Marietti

“This pandemic, although not the education we want for students, has really forced us to roll up our sleeves and dig into what distance learning is, what it is not, and how to do it well.”

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Episode 36: Show Notes.

The pandemic has put enormous strain on schools and if there is one thing we can take away from it all, it is a reaffirmed belief in the value of education. My conversation today is with Dr. Paul Marietti, Superintendent of the Fowler Unified School District about how he and his community have taken up the many challenges posed by the COVID outbreak. Paul spent the bulk of his education career in Southern California as a teacher and site and central office leader before moving to Fowler for the superintendency. We start our discussion listening to Paul’s experiences coming into Fowler as a first-time superintendent and having to put all his plans on hold when the pandemic suddenly hit. The pandemic thwarted access to education in significant ways across all school districts, and Paul speaks to the traumatic effects of this on the students, and how the Fowler United School District took up the challenge by providing support in many different ways. Listeners will also hear how Paul has taken on the technology challenges brought about by the need to shift to a distance learning model so that connectivity is ensured across the district's school communities. We wrap up with some final thoughts from Paul about how the threat posed to education by the pandemic has instilled a valuable lesson in his communities about its value, and that no matter how good your tools are, what matters most is the connection between a student and a teacher.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How Paul and the community are dealing with the re-entry to schools in California.
  • Working in empty schools as an educator and the challenges of distance learning.
  • More on the Fowler Unified School District; its history, size, and who they serve.
  • Paul’s experience in education and how became superintendent at Fowler.
  • Challenges as a first-year superintendent having plans thwarted by COVID.
  • Tech advantages at Fowler which left them better equipped to cope with remote learning.
  • Learning how to do distance learning well thanks to the pandemic’s challenges.
  • Tech support and distributing devices across the student body to maintain access to education.
  • How Paul restructured the famously good Fowler subjects that need in-person contact.
  • Why Paul is not a strong believer in expulsion anymore: Struggling students require more not less energy.
  • How Fowler is dealing with struggling and hungry students in this remote working climate.
  • A stressful factor in the form of keeping the internet up and running right now.
  • Managing the balance and appeasing different approaches toward back to school protocol.
  • Lessons learned about the importance of education during this time where it has been taken away.
  • Advice for students and teachers to remember their value through this difficult time.
  • How listeners can connect with Paul and the Fowler Unified School District.
  • A final quote from Paul about the value of teachers: Technology is just a tool.



“It’s been a challenge, coming into the superintendency as a first-year superintendent, creating a vision and trying to find a plan to find areas where we can improve and get better and then come March, it’s almost like all the gates are shut and the doors are locked, and we said, ‘Stop everything that you are doing, we have a whole new challenge for you.’” — Dr. Paul Marietti[0:06:42]

“This pandemic, although not the education we want for students, has really forced us to roll up our sleeves and dig into what distance learning is, what it is not, and how to do it well.” — Dr. Paul Marietti[0:09:24]

“There is a camp of people that say, ‘Kids need to go to school, open up the schools,’ and there are other parents and community members saying, ‘We need to wait until it is safe.’” — Dr. Paul Marietti [0:21:21]


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode: