WATERLOO — Jane Lindaman became Waterloo Schools superintendent in 2014 following the retirement of her predecessor Gary Norris.
She arrived in Waterloo in 2005 as principal of Bunger Middle School. After a year, Lindaman was promoted to executive director of learning and results and middle school education. Later, she was named to the associate superintendent position. She has a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Northern Iowa.
What drives you?
From the time I was young, I wanted to be a teacher. I used to set up a makeshift school room in my back yard, making the neighbor kids come over to do math worksheets throughout the summer. Why they listened to me, I’ll never know. I think education has always been in my blood, as is leadership. Becoming the superintendent was truly a leap of faith and it certainly wasn’t on my radar. In this role, I want so much for the students of Waterloo Schools. What drives me is my desire to provide leadership for our district that ensures students get what they need. I want others to see our students for the bright amazing kids they are. I want to be one of the few districts that has closed the achievement gap for students of color. While we have made some wonderful progress, there’s so much to do. My faith is strong and drives me to lead our district to be among the best.
What was your biggest accomplishment in 2018?
I’m proud of the work our district has done to launch the Waterloo Career Center. When the bond vote failed in February of 2016, we found another way to move forward with expanding career programming for students in our district. In a couple of short years, we have grown from two career programs to 14, and we’re on track to have over 600 students at the Career Center next year. We are drawing a diverse group of students to these programs, and we’re collaborating with other districts so their students can attend, as well. These courses are engaging students at high levels, increasing our graduation rate (which reached its highest point this past year at 84 percent), while helping students earn college credits and certifications that provide them with a competitive advantage for their future. It is truly a point of pride for 2018.
What are your goals for 2019?
In 2019, we will be launching a new strategic plan that will drive our work over the next five years. There are several things that will be front and center in our plan, including additional strategies to close the achievement gap, additional supports for mental health and emotional well-being, and expanded experiential learning opportunities. My personal goals for 2019 are to continue to engage with and listen to our stakeholders and increase teacher retention.
What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business/education?
The people and the opportunities. The Cedar Valley is the perfect size, small enough that you know many, but large enough to offer a variety of experiences. The sports, theater, shopping, cultural opportunities … we enjoy them all! We love raising our two boys here, and I love that they attend Waterloo Schools. The diversity in Waterloo provides us with experiences that are more like the real world than anywhere in Iowa.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned in your career journey?
I learned early on the importance of staying true to my values. When I make decisions, I always think of the students first. From instructional decisions to weather decisions, it’s just easier to determine our next steps if I stay focused on kids. There will always be some who disagree with my decisions, and I understand that. But if I make decisions in the students’ best interest, I sleep a lot better at night.