Dr. Tamara Ravalin is getting her steps in at the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) office.
“That’s kind of my running joke,” said Ravalin. “I still have the two offices here.”
The VUSD administrator took over for Dr. Todd Oto as acting superintendent after he announced his resignation on May 7 at a Visalia Unified Board Meeting. She’s since been named interim superintendent, and she’s experienced a flurry of responsibilities.
“We finished the year out together. He did the commencement speeches. We made sure we covered what we needed to cover,” said Ravalin.
As of July 1, she took over the official position of interim Superintendent, but she still is responsible in her previous position as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources until they find a replacement.
“They’re looking at candidates now. It’s really about taking care of people,” Ravalin noted about human resources.
Dr. Ravalin began her career in Fresno County education as a custodian while she attended college. After graduating, she taught middle school shop class.
“That’s one of my little claims to fame,” she said. “I was the first credentialed shop teacher in Fresno County that was a female.”
She went on to work for the Kings County Office of Education and found herself as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. Then, a position for Dean of Student Services opened up at College of the Sequoias in Visalia.
“I had always kind of, in my mind, thought it would be a nice experience to work at a community college. I had been, at that point, in K-12 for about 20 years. That would complete the picture. I could see how our students are doing once they leave the K-12 system,” said Ravalin.
She cherishes the time she spent at COS, especially working with the colleagues she met there.
“I’ve worked under very strong leaders there and people extended themselves for students like I couldn’t believe,” said Ravalin.
From there, she moved to VUSD and began working again in human resources as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
“For me, it’s always about service and helping others. The most important part to me is helping people on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
Dr. Ravalin emphasized the need for human interaction and its importance in a modern day workplace. During her tenure as Assistant Superintendent, the district opened the Visalia Health & Wellness Clinic though she made it clear she was not alone in that effort.
Relaxation and leisure time is also important to Ravalin. In her free time, she likes to garden and read, but travel seems to particularly be of interest.
In the past, she’s done work in the community, but that’s an area she’s let slip as she’s gotten more and more professionally involved though she’s expressed interest in finding Tulare County groups to join.
Now as interim Superintendent, Ravalin has some goals she hopes to get started during the 2019-2020 academic year.
“We definitely have some target areas of growth. One of those is our mathematics. If we want to keep going as a nation and as a society, math is that underlying foundation,” said Ravalin. While she didn’t go into specifics so far as a plan for developing the district’s mathematics, she has spoken with the board members about furthering progress in math.
The district is expected to open a school this fall serving students experiencing developmental or behavioral issues. There, students in grades seven to 12 will get more personal help than if they were in a larger school setting.
Dr. Ravalin also anticipates beginning a conversation about making campuses welcome to students and staff of all backgrounds.
Though the work seems daunting, Ravalin is hoping for growth.
“Sometimes you learn from your mistakes more than your successes even if it’s more painful,” she said.