Meet New Mount vernon Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins
Writer / Pat Carlini
Photographer / Keeley Miller
What do military awards, athletic training and technology initiatives have in common? The answer may be surprising: the new superintendent at Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, Dr. Shane Robbins.
When you walk into Dr. Robbins’ office, you notice a wall of accolades and awards, including the “Distinguished Hoosier” by former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. Dr. Robbins has served his country in the United States Army/Indiana National Guard since 1987, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and continues to remain active as a Lieutenant Colonel.
As you look around his office, you will also notice a StairMaster in one corner and a Fitbit on his wrist – a sign that this accomplished man likes to get a workout in now and then too!
“I try to get in a few steps when I can,” said Dr. Robbins. “It comes from my days as a certified athletic trainer.”
Dr. Robbins has an extensive background in both education and athletic training. After graduating from Franklin College, he owned a fitness center while serving as a Health and Science Teacher at Blackford High School in 1998. He later returned to graduate school at Ball State University and earned his master’s degrees in Secondary Education in 1999, K-12 Administration in 2003, Educational Specialist Degree as a Superintendent in 2007 and finally his Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2011.
Dr. Robbins landed at the Mt. Vernon School District last July, and just like planning a good physical rehabilitation program, Dr. Robbins assessed and planned for the future at Mt. Vernon. The district has made tremendous progress since his arrival.
“When I took over, the Board had just passed a three year Strategic Plan, so it was more about taking a blueprint and putting an action plan together rather than just coming in and making changes,” states Dr. Robbins. “A plan is only as good as the people implementing it, and I feel pretty confident with our staff at Mt. Vernon.”
One important Mt. Vernon initiative that Dr. Robbins had prior experience implementing in other school districts was executing a one-to-one technology initiative (one computer device for every student/staff member). Dr. Robbins launched this district-wide initiative a year earlier than scheduled and has been successful in providing an additional tool to motivate, engage and challenge students in their education.
Implementing a 1:1 technology initiative requires additional staff training to assist teachers in utilizing digital curriculum in the classroom. Dr. Robbins began the “Delayed Start Wednesday” program to provide approximately 45 minutes each week of professional development for teachers to work collaboratively, make data-informed decisions, train on the digital curriculum and remain on the cutting edge of education.
Students that are able to may arrive at the later start time on Wednesdays. Students that arrive normal time on the buses are supervised and provided academic activities. Meanwhile, teachers are provided time in their “Professional Learning Communities” each week to sharpen their instructional skills in a blended learning environment.
Dr. Robbins also sought approval from the Indiana Department of Education to offer “eLearning Days” during inclement weather. Only school districts with computer devices K-12 are able to offer these “eLearning Days” where students continue to learn with their computer device at home.
“Essentially, there are no more snow days. Our first eLearning Day in January was a success both from the students’ and staff’s perspective. Parents tweeted pictures of their children working on their computer by the fire in their pajamas,” said Dr. Robbins.
Dr. Robbins vows to keep the community well informed of what the school district is spending by posting financial and progress reports on the district website at mvcsc.k12.in.us.
“People want to know how their tax dollars are being spent and if they are put to good use,” said Dr. Robbins.
The new superintendent has made additional changes that impact the community. Robbins removed the “Pay-to-Participate” club ($25) and athletic fees ($225) in the fall. He has also made some cosmetic improvements to school buildings and the grounds.
“Sometimes the simplest things get noticed,” states Dr. Robbins who said he received numerous compliments on how nice the landscaping looked in front of the buildings.
Dr. Robbins comes to Mt. Vernon School District following his work at Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County where he also became known for implementing new technology while keeping the budget in line and visible to all.
Dr. Robbins lives in Fishers with his wife Heather and his two teenage sons Bryce and Brandon who also attend Mt. Vernon Schools.