Dr. Jenny McGown takes the position as Superintendent

With the resignation of former superintendent Bret Champion, Klein ISD was in need of a successor to fill the empty position. It was up to the district’s Board of Trustees to find his replacement following his transfer to Oregon. However, less than a month later on June 6, 2019, the Board unanimously voted Dr. Jenny McGown as the Lone Finalist for Superintendent.

Jenny McGown, KISD superintendent. Photo courtesy of Learning Forward Conference.
Dr. Jenny McGown, KISD superintendent. Photo courtesy of Learning Forward Conference.

McGown was beyond excited to begin her new journey as superintendent of schools and was more than happy to continue sharing her passion with not just the students, but the entire Klein community. With high aspirations and multiple goals in mind, she’s begun to develop Klein ISD campuses into greater, thriving schools.

“I am really excited about getting to serve our students and our community, and I really mean that sincerely,” McGown said. “I mean, I think it’s such a privilege to be a part of our school district, and I think we’re so fortunate and blessed to have outstanding students that come into our schools and make our community a great place and go off from Klein ISD and literally change the world.”

Keeping an Open Mind

Although she’s taken up a variety of responsibilities upon herself, she’s been constantly working to fulfill her dreams and promises. Even with stressful demands of the superintendency being piled up, McGown pushes forward and positively tackles any obstacles encountered.

Jenny McGown has been named the lone finalist for Klein ISD Superintendent. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)

“I think that one of the things I’m challenging myself to do is to really have a beginner’s mind, McGown said. “I think that when you’ve been in a place for a long time you can think that you know things because you know lots of people and you’ve had different experiences, but actually by having a beginner’s mind, you’ve opened up yourself to really see things fresh, and to then utilize that knowledge to determine what the next best steps are for the district.”

Getting to Serve

Overall, McGown is most excited about doing her part for the people she represents. She believes that getting to serve the community is one of the most crucial roles in her position.

“I feel that what I’m most excited about is getting to serve,”
– Dr. Jenny McGown

“I think that service is at the heart of leadership and so that’s what I’m most excited about, is getting to serve students, serve the teachers, serve the campuses, and then serve all the support staff, but take care of the campuses,” McGown said.

New Beginnings at Klein ISD

As the district and McGown’s initiatives have been set in motion, changes to the community have already begun. She’s been hard at work visiting KISD campuses and facilities getting to know faculty and students while improving public relations. She has specific plans set in place to improve the staff’s productive capability to create a better learning environment.

McGown collaborating with students during one of her tours. She stopped by Krimmel Intermediate and Mahaffey Elementary on August 22. Photo courtesy of Jenny McGown's Instagram.
McGown collaborating with students during one of her tours. She stopped by Krimmel Intermediate and Mahaffey Elementary on August 22. Photo courtesy of Jenny McGown’s Instagram.

“I think that one of the important roles of a superintendent is to take excellent care of all of your employees but especially your teachers, because what we know from research is that the person who has the greatest impact on student learning, not surprisingly, is the classroom teacher,” McGown said. “Number two is the building principal. I think in the last three years we started a conversation on whole student wellness, and I think that’s a conversation we need to continue but also talking about educator wellness.”

Though there are multiple jobs in education, McGown believes teaching is one of the most important jobs to be fulfilled. She’s grateful for teachers’ hard work and hopes to improve their experiences.

“Now teaching is a really hard job, I can say having done it,” McGown said. “I loved it, it was a wonderful experience, but to do it well, is really hard. That is one of the things that’s on my mind as I start off and as I start visiting with teachers is how can we better support you so you can better support our students.”

Still in Good Hands

People are confident that McGown will take excellent care of the district and lead it well. She’s held different positions in Klein, with the latest being deputy superintendent. She was the second in the chain of command and knows what must be done.

McGown actually started off as a teacher herself. She started in Uzbekistan and then came back and taught at Klein Collins. Photo courtesy of Klein ISD.
McGown actually started off as a teacher herself. She started in Uzbekistan and then came back and taught at Klein Collins. Photo courtesy of Klein ISD.

“Thankfully, my role prior to this was deputy superintendent, and so in that position, you have general oversight of the district, and you do of course do everything you can do to support the students and the community but ultimately to support the superintendent position,” McGown said.

Handling the Responsibilities

Having one of the highest levels of authority, she realizes she has to get her point across concisely. The superintendent knows what it’s going to take to be able to work efficiently and appropriately.

“For one, I really believe that clear is kind, and so people are not mind readers, they cannot imagine how I think things should be or how I like things to be done so I always try to be very clear with what my expectations are, mostly they always pertain to how people treat one another,” McGown said. “I really believe that you can be a very effective leader and be incredibly polite, incredibly kind, incredibly joyful, those things are not mutually exclusive, and so one of the things I do to create balance in my own life is by giving people clear expectations.”

Even outside of the offices, she has her very own support system. Her family. They’ve all been supportive and helpful along the way, and wish only the best on her behalf. McGown is positive they’ll always have her back and provide feedback when necessary.

“I have a wonderful support system,” – Dr. Jenny McGown

Dr. Jenny McGown and her family react to the Klein ISD board trustees announcing her as the lone finalist as superintendent. (Klein ISD)

“The second thing is, I am very blessed,” McGown said. “My husband is an unbelievable man. He jokes around about being the first man on Klein ISD. He really loves it, he loves our community… your family really does become part of the superintendency.”

Paving Way for a Successful Future

Following up on the recent programs and initiatives done by KISD to improve teaching and mentorships, McGown has plans set in motion for the new year. She’s doing everything in her power to create a better learning environment while also shaping the community.

“Because I’ve been in the district I’ve been able to observe, and how people go about the work,” McGown said. “I think one of the things that will continue to be very important to me because it’s been important to me throughout my career, is really spending time with people and having conversations in dialogue.”

McGown has been hard at work fulfilling promises since she accepted the superintendency. She’s even finished a tour of all the campuses and departments while also collaborating with people.

“Like not with a quick pop-in and pop-out, but sitting down and trying to understand people’s perspectives and the things that they see are going really well, and then the things that really need to be improved and then trying to connect people, to put all the pieces together to get better results and better outcomes for students, but also we have over 70,000 employees in Klein ISD,” McGown said. “For me, it’s really about knowing people, it’s about having real relationships with folks and hearing what’s on their minds and their hearts and doing whatever I can do to be helpful in my position.”

Klein ISD is in fact, the largest employer in the area. McGown knows that she must take care of every individual employee in the district to ensure comfort and productivity.

Getting Straight to Business

With everyone that she has to look after, there’s a considerable amount of time and collaboration she puts in. With constant communication, she’s been going to different locations in the district to and gain better oversight.

The KISD Board of Trustees. Dr. McGown will be regularly working and building a strong relationship with them. Photo courtesy of Klein ISD.

“Of course I want to make sure that I build and strengthen a good relationship that I already have with the Board and make sure that we’re all working together in unison for the benefit of students, and for our employees, and for our community,” McGown said. “Another goal that I have right now is just to do lots of listening and learning, and like I said earlier, having a beginner’s mind so that I really understand and I don’t assume that I understand the current conditions in perspectives of people. All of our people, our students, our employees, and our community.”