A new school year brings on new responsibilities.
Sept. 1 was “Day One” for the 2023-24 school year. Robyn Klim began her new role as superintendent of schools in the Lawrence Township Schools.
Klim, who had been the Lawrence Township school district’s assistant superintendent for student services, took over as the new superintendent of schools Sept. 1. She replaced former Superintendent of School Ross Kasun, who retired Aug. 31.
In one of her first official duties, Klim welcomed the school district’s teachers for the start of the new school year and for a day of professional development workshops Sept. 1. The first day of school for students was Sept. 6.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here with you on our first day together,” Klim told the teachers, who had gathered in the Lawrence High School auditorium on the first day of September.
“I have admittedly lost some sleep these past few days, and my nervous energy manifested in several ways this week. I also thought long and hard about what I wanted to share with you,” she said.
Klim said she wanted to tell the teachers where she began professionally so they could better understand her. Teachers learned Klim began as a social worker and she later became involved in education.
She began her educational path as a nursing major and then switched to clinical social work. She started her career as a child advocate, providing wrap-around services for children and families.
Klim soon realized that the larger impact for young people could be achieved by providing programs and services in the schools. Her clinical training taught her that “we must connect and build relationships before we can learn and grow.”
She shifted her career path to school social work. She was a member of the child study team and then became a special education administrator. She served in that role in several school districts.
“I have an abundance of gratitude and respect for your work with our students, and the countless hours you spend to ensure that our classrooms are welcoming for all to learn,” she told the teachers.
“We continue to research ‘best practices’ to keep up with our students, who are ever changing. No matter what they bring us, we are ready to love and embrace them,” Klim said.
Klim’s message was echoed by Rajneet Goomer, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She also spoke to the teachers.
“This year, you will see a consistent theme of meeting staff, students and families where they are,” Goomer said.
“There is a commitment to embrace every student’s journey and recognize that each one has a unique path, background and set of challenges,” she said.
That commitment continues the work of building a culture of belonging where every student, regardless of their background, can thrive and flourish, she said.
Building a culture of belonging extends to staff as well, she said. It is the staff that nurtures the very foundation on which the students’ dreams and accomplishments are built.
“When we foster a sense of belonging, we pave the way for all of you to impart your knowledge and passion with even greater impact,” Goomer said.
“Sometimes, it only takes one person to connect with – and to feel comfortable with – to create a sense of belonging, “whether you are an adult or a student.”
Goomer encouraged the teachers to “be that one” for a student, family and/or fellow staff member, because it starts with one person.
“It takes one person to make a connection and build a relationship to know a student or staff member or family member to make them feel welcome, visible, heard and supported,” she said.
“As you go through the year, remember that a lot of people just need someone to be kind to them today. A smile is a universal welcome.”