After more than 30 years in education, Linda Pietz maintains that she is still learning.
“I am a work in progress,” she says with a bright smile. “I learn every day, from the kids, things you should know.” Pietz is one of 10 women selected for this year’s Women in Leadership special issue.
Pietz is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Huron School District, taking on an administrator’s role after more than 25 years in the classroom setting. And this year, has been one for the books, as schools around the state remain closed due to the Convid-19 pandemic.
“These are difficult times,” Pietz agrees. “We’ve planned the best way to instruct students in one fashion - a classroom setting - and now instead we need to find a way to accomplish the same thing through a different medium.”
Instead of figuring out logistics of finding a way to keep kids involved with their schooling, Pietz said that right now, she would be involved in working with teachers in the district, on how to prepare and give the state assessment tests.
Pietz comes by her education background naturally. “Dad was a school administrator, my brothers and sister are involved in education; Mom was even a school nurse for awhile,” she says. The trend continues, as she and her husband Doug, the director at Huron’s Community Campus, have a daughter, Katelyn (Pat) Tschetter, is an adjunct professor of Geography and History in Lincoln, Neb.
One son, Robert (wife Marissa) served in the Air Force and is pursuing a degree in Aeronautics while the other son, Tanner, attends SDSU as he pursues a degree in Wildlife Fisheries.
“It was tough when I was asked to take a new position as an Instructional Coach,” Pietz said. “I wasn’t happy, I missed my kids. But I have learned so much and it has shown me that I can still an influence in students’ live, through their teachers. I’m now a ‘Let’s try things,’ person. Teaching is constantly evolving. The way we taught 20 years ago may not work now. We’re trying new things, things that have worked in other places.”
With a family history in education, she said it was a teacher from early in her life that she thinks may have had the most influence.
“Mrs. Sorley - taught K-1-2 in a little school in Hudson,” she said. “I remember that her right knee was for a student who needed a little extra - help, or care, or whatever; her left was for someone who maybe was acting up and needed a bit of attention. She always had two kids on her lap.”
Pietz said that it is Mrs. Sorley she thinks of when she visualizes a ‘teacher’ from her past. “She went to every one of her kids’ graduations, no matter where, and to their wedding,” Pietz said. “She was at both of mine.”
Pietz’s other hat finds her working on curriculum research and adoption for the district. “It’s and extensive program,” she said. “The process often takes a year or longer. There is a lot of research and professional development that goes into a new curriculum choice.”
“I work every day to figure out how to best serve students in this unprecedented occurrence,” she said. “What can we do for the kids?”