Monthly Archives June 2015

Educational Leader & Advocate for Student Centered Schools
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Laurie Kimbrel | What Every Voter Should Know About School Boards

Shared By Laurie Kimbrel   /     Jun 18, 2015  /     Blog, Laurie Kimbrel, Laurie Kimbrel Superintendent, Laurie Kimbrel Tamalpais  /     Comments Off on Laurie Kimbrel | What Every Voter Should Know About School Boards

Public participation in local government is the foundation of American democracy.  Nowhere is this more evident than in our public schools, where elected boards of education work together to ensure that systems and policies are in place to support student learning.  Since the decisions of a school board impact our children, the stakes are high, and it’s essential that voters take the time to be informed before they cast their ballots.


The Role of the Board

Although school board meetings sometimes look structured and routine to the outside observer, the board makes a number of very important decisions about how our schools operate.  It’s important to remember that school districts are governed collectively by boards, rather than by individual trustees.  Because the board is a governmental body, it can only take action by majority vote at a public meeting.  According to the American Associations of School Boards, there are some characteristics that are common to good school boards no matter where they are in the country:

  • Good boards set a vision for their districts based on input from stakeholders.  The vision is an aspirational statement of what should be true for all students.  Decisions of the board should be made in light of the mission.
  • Good school boards set policy for the district and listen to a variety of stakeholder groups as a part of the policy-setting process.
  • Good school boards understand the budget and ensure that it responsibly supports the mission.
  • Good boards attempt to reach decisions that all members can support.
  • Good school boards make every effort to operate openly by encouraging public attendance at their meetings and keeping constituents informed of the district’s progress.
  • Good boards are efficient and have protocols and procedures for how they will operate as a team.
  • Good boards know that they are in the business of education.  They talk about education, they study the needs of students, and they are familiar with current educational research.
  • Good school boards know the difference between governance (which is the board’s job) and management (which is the administration’s job), and place a high priority on respecting that difference.


What to Look for in an Individual Trustee

Good school trustees can come from all walks of life.  The ability to work together as a team is not determined by age, race, occupation, income, or social standing.  Both the California School Boards Association and the American School Boards Association have identified the characteristics of effective trustees.  These qualities may be helpful to keep in mind as you are researching the views and experiences of the candidates.  An effective individual trustee:

  • Has the proven ability to work as a member of a team, including keeping an open mind and engaging in give-and-take to arrive at a group consensus.
  • Keeps learning and achievement of all students as their primary focus.
  • Takes the time necessary to become informed and do the homework required to actively take part in effective school board meetings.
  • Recognizes and respects differences of perspective and style on the board and among staff, students, parents, and the community.
  • Acts with dignity and understands the implications of demeanor and behavior.
  • Keeps confidential matters confidential.
  • Participates in professional development and commits the time and energy necessary to be an informed leader.

Effective trustees are often those who have proved successful in their particular vocations or avocations, and who have demonstrated a genuine concern for the needs of students and community improvement.  Schools and students need trustees who believe unequivocally in the value of public education.  Trustees must be dedicated to serving and teaching each and every student.


As with all elections, we should become informed voters and make our choices wisely.  After all, our new trustees will have the awesome responsibility of looking out for the best interests of our students, and our students deserve the very best.

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Laurie Kimbrel | Helping Students Relieve Exam Stress

Shared By Laurie Kimbrel   /     Jun 16, 2015  /     Blog, Laurie Kimbrel  /     Comments Off on Laurie Kimbrel | Helping Students Relieve Exam Stress

Every family feels the crunch this time of year.  Our students are busily trying to finish the semester with assignments, lab reports, and papers, while simultaneously studying for exams.

Late May is almost certainly the season of stress for families with high school students.  As parents, we often wonder how we can help our students prepare both mentally and academically for exams when we are so busy ourselves.  To help answer this question, I turned to the experts on the subject, who, as it turns out, are nearby and easy to contact.  You guessed it!  I called the parents who have had a few students go through the exam process in previous years, and who always seem to have their acts together.  As it happens, they are eager to pass their ideas on to others.

The advice I received from fellow parents was simple, easy to follow, and really just a matter of common sense.  Here are some of the tips I received:

  • Stay positive and try not to add stress by focusing on grades.  Avoid questions like, “How many points do you need to get an A?” and instead focus on the study process and learning with questions like, “What section will you review first?” or “Which course outcomes will be included on your exam?”
  • Know your child and follow his or her cues.  Does he or she want help from you?  One parent talked about working quietly on her own project near her studying child so that she was easily available but not hovering.
  • This next tip is a classic but one that is especially important at exam time: have a comfortable study space away from the TV, computer, and family noise.  Make sure it’s not too comfortable though–studying while lying in bed has obvious drawbacks!
  • Encourage regular breaks–studying for hours on end is not helpful.  Snacks during breaks can help too!  Another way to have an effective break is to add physical activity.  Even a little exercise will increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain and will reduce stress.
  • Encourage study groups and studying with friends.  Many parents offer to host these study groups; others encourage “virtual” study groups via FaceTime.
  • Offer relief from regular household chores for a week or two.  This one will be popular in my house!
  • Ensure that your child is using the study guides that many teachers provide.
  • Encourage your child to contact his or her teacher for a little extra help.  Teachers go out of their way to help students all year, but this is especially true at exam time.  Help is available in person and sometimes via e-mail as well.

Above all, it’s helpful to remind our teens that stress is a natural part of life and can actually be beneficial if managed well.  As parents, we can work to be models of effective stress management, and we can help our students to feel confident and well prepared as they head into exam week.

I’m going to take the advice of my fellow parents and try a few things on this list.  What will you try?  I would love to hear back from you with your tips and advice.

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After application, acceptance and decision day – making a plan to pay for college

Shared By Laurie Kimbrel   /     Jun 09, 2015  /     Blog, Laurie Kimbrel, Laurie Kimbrel Superintendent, Laurie Kimbrel Tamalpais  /     Comments Off on After application, acceptance and decision day – making a plan to pay for college

High school graduation is quickly approaching. It’s mid May, AP exams are over, and it’s almost time for graduation. The day that you submitted your college applications is a foggy memory. Your acceptances finally arrived and you were left with a big decision about the next four years of your life. You considered many factors as you approached the May 1 deadline: your intended major, class sizes, social opportunities, rigor or courses, reputation of the school, even the weather and cafeteria food. But did you consider your financial aid options and how you would pay for your tuition, room and board and living expenses?

College tuition and expenses rise annually and in fact, are at an all time high. We hear many reports of students who have difficulty managing the overwhelming expense of an undergraduate degree. There are a few typical barriers and more importantly, methods to over come them. View Laurie Kimbrel Superintendent’s profile, images, blog, news & more! Get everything Laurie Kimbrel straight from the latest Laurie Kimbrel news to a full collection of photos, facts, and a complete biography.

Understanding the financial aid process

Applying for financial aid is often not an easy process for families. This is a particularly daunting barrier for first generation college students whose parents have not had previous experience with the process. The FAFSA form can be overwhelming, but many schools or community agencies offer seminars, workshops and assistance. It is most helpful when these workshops are offered at times and locations that are convenient to working parents. These workshops should also be held in the native language of the parent. Regardless of family income, part of the college application process for every student should be filling out the FAFSA form. When parents and children sit down together to fill out the form, it can be an enlightening experience. In order to receive any aid from most colleges and universities, the FAFSA must be completely filled out and submitted by the required deadline. This is a barrier that can be overcome with targeted assistance to families.

Merit scholarships

A variety of merit scholarships are available from universities, corporations, community groups and national organizations. School counselors have access to information about a wide variety of scholarships. University financial aid offices are also a great resource. A simple Google search also typically turns up scholarships that are offered for any one of a variety of reasons. Most merit scholarships require an application process. Every year many scholarships go unused because of a lack of applications! Our goal should be to ensure that every single penny available is used for deserving students.

Loans and work-study

Finally, check with your university about the availability of loans and student work study programs to make up the difference between the “free money” offered by merit scholarships, need based aid and the cost of tuition. Research tells us that students on work-study programs typically earn the same or higher grades than students without jobs. A work-study program allows you to have a job at your college or university and that is appropriate for the schedule and needs of a student.

With planning and communication with both your high school and your university financial aid office, it is possible to fund your education in a reasonable manner and to earn the four- ear degree that has become so necessary for success.

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  • About Laurie Kimbrel

    The current project manager for the Atlanta K-12 Design Challenge, Laurie Kimbrel is an educator with many years’ experience. Before undertaking this position in 2015, Kimbrel served as Superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District in Larkspur, California, where she oversaw 4,200 students, 435 staff members, and managed a $63 million budget. Among other achievements under Laurie Kimbrel’s tenure, the district implemented a leadership model that formed Professional Learning Communities designed to augment teacher effectiveness through shared assessment data.

    Kimbrel holds a bachelor of science in music and business from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. She also received a master of science in special education from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, and completed her education with leadership-based doctoral studies at Loyola University in Chicago.

    Dedicated to her community, Laurie Kimbrel is a hospice volunteer and works with nonprofits aimed at ensuring every child has access to great teachers and schools. She is also passionate about education reform and champions efforts to bring about effective hiring practices in schools.

  • Education & Publications


    Loyola University Chicago - Doctorate, Curriculum & Instruction

    National Louis University, Certificate of Advanced Study, Educational Leadership

    Dominican University, Master of Science, Special Education

    Millikin University, Bachelor of Science, Music and Business

    It's a Man's World: How to Achieve Success as a Woman in High School District, AASA Women in Leadership Conference, 2013

    How to Run a Clean Construction Program, California School Board Convention, 2012

    A Transition Success Story: California School Boards Association Conference, 2009

    Program Growth and High Achievement: College Board National Conference, 2008

    Building Leadership Capacity through Effective Staffing Planning, Illinois Association of Personnel Administrators Conference, 2008

    Improving Student Achievement: Illinois NCLB Conference, 2007

    Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations: Lake County Personnel Administrators Conference, 2007

    The Impact of Proactive Classroom Management, Doctoral Dissertation, Loyola University, 2002

  • Community Service

    Laurie Kimbrel volunteers for a number of community organizations including Bristol Hospice as a patient volunteer, Destiny's Daughter's of Promise as a student mentor and Students First as an advocate for effective educational practices.
  • Contact Laurie Kimbrel