A new superintendent of schools for Alpine County
Physically fit and energetic may well be the descriptors that spring to mind on first meeting our new superintendent of schools, Dr. Patrick Traynor. Traynor makes healthy living a high priority in his life. He received his bachelor of science degree in nutritional science (and entomology) His diet is mostly vegetarian with occasional fish, some of which he catches on his annual fishing trip. He commends Diamond Valley School for serving generous portions of fruits and vegetables at the salad bar at lunch and at the after school program.
His chief interests include: education, skiing, backpacking, hiking, camping, tennis, ping-pong, bicycling and playing the trumpet. When living in Sacramento and Irvine, bicycling was his main mode of transportation within the cities. Now, living on River Ranch Road and working in Diamond Valley, he has his shortest commute in10 years and looks forward to cycling to work.
Traynor, born in Bakersfield, Calif., took vacations in Tahoe from the age of 10 and became an avid skier. When he was in his teens his parents bought a cabin in South Lake Tahoe. He eventually became a certified ski coach. He has two sons, Patrick, 19, a sophomore at the University of California, San Diego, and Christopher, 17, a senior in high school; both boys have been skiing since age 2, and their father took them both through ski team from age 4. Traynor introduced his sons to camping and backpacking; the older one is now an Eagle Scout and the younger one soon will be.
Since his childhood Traynor has been playing the trumpet which he practices daily. He participates in open mic blues jam sessions in Reno and Carson Valley. His son, Christopher, shares this passion for music; he is the drum major (student conductor) of his high school band. Traynor acknowledges the importance of music in the school curriculum and would welcome the return of a music program to Diamond Valley School. He says that this is being discussed by the leadership team. Here’s hoping.
Traynor has masters degrees in computer education and educational administration and a PhD in educational administration. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on classroom management. He is a published author and has had articles on classroom management published in various educational journals.
Traynor’s experience in the field of education includes: high school science teacher, teaching vice principal, assistant principal of a middle school, elementary school principal, director of English learners, director of assessment and evaluation, assistant superintendent of student accountability and assessment, and director of state assessment.
As the superintendent of schools, Traynor oversees The Alpine County Unified School District which consists of: Alpine County Office of Education, Diamond Valley Pre-School, Diamond Valley Elementary School (K-8), Community Day High School, opportunity school and after school program.
Since the Kirkwood school closed, students (one this year) come to Diamond Valley School, and since the Bear Valley School closed, the six students attend school in Calaveras County.
Prior to joining our school district, Traynor’s most recent position was director of assessment development and administration for the California Department of Education in Sacramento, which involved, partly, the development of tests for grades K-12.
In defense of testing, Traynor notes that tests have evolved and are no longer the multiple choice variety considered by many to be mindless.
He asserts that tests currently in use, taken on computers, elicit the same quality of thinking elicited in a classroom by a challenging teacher.
The modern technology requires students to use creativity in solving problems.
For example, students may be asked to draw a line across the screen to demonstrate their knowledge of graphs, to drag items across the screen in answering math problems, and to type in answers to questions regarding a reading passage.
He explains how automated scoring handles these answers; perhaps a hundred tests are graded by humans to set the parameters.
He assures us that there is a high degree of reliability in the scoring. He is quick to point out that testing is only one way of evaluating students and acknowledges that the stress that tests can produce is detrimental to performance. Testing, he says, helps to evaluate instruction by highlighting areas which need improvement.
Traynor affirms that we have a natural motivation to improve, that education, formal and informal, is happening for the whole of one’s life, and that a nurturing environment fosters creativity.
Traynor has always wanted to be a superintendent, and is delighted to have this position in his beloved Sierra Nevada.
He finds the school district staff, in all departments, positive and supportive and the school board pleasant and cohesive.
“I am just so happy to be here,” Traynors said.