Traci Davis is the interim Washoe County schools superintendent, appointed to serve after the departure of Pedro Martinez. Before joining the Washoe County School District as deputy superintendent, she was with the Clark County district for 16 years, rising from teacher through various roles to area superintendent.
Before superintendent, what did you do for the district?
I was a deputy superintendent. … I was over all the academics, so I was over student accountability, schools, instruction, special ed.
You’ve been superintendent for a couple of months. How are you adjusting?
I think I’m doing a good job. I think that the board and I are really working to make sure that everybody understands that we are community oriented, we are about every child on the way to graduation, and we are willing to engage in interaction, make sure we are doing the best for every kid and every family.
The appointment did you no favors, given that you followed that enormous controversy. Have you had uncomfortable encounters as a result?
No. I mean, people might assume they’re uncomfortable, but I come from an aspect that I’m going to make decisions for kids and what happened between that board and Pedro was between them, and this is a new board and me, and for us it’s a fresh beginning, so I can’t even compare the two.
Do you understand why the Latino community was unhappy?
I surely could understand that, as a minority. …
And how do you approach that as superintendent?
As far as me approaching that particular thing, I was a principal at a school that was 80 percent Hispanic in ELL [English language learners]. I think we do the best job for every kid every day. And we understand if there has to be some form or differentiation of instruction because kids come with different needs. And I know that every kid needs something different. So I can’t say that whatever issues they had, that I have to own the issues they had with Pedro, because that’s my issue. I understand it, but I have to move forward. We cannot continue to live in the past. …
You asked in this [NAACP] meeting, “How many black administrators are there?” How many Latino administrators are there?
That gets a little bit complicated. I think we have way more than we have African-Americans, and it kind of just depends on what we’re calculating. Like offhand, I would probably say five. Right? But it’s different how you can identify, let’s just be honest. We definitely have more, but I do believe we’re making a conscientious effort to go out and recruit … so there’s role models at every level for students to see.
When you leave this job, what would you like people to say?
That we did not close achievement gaps, we eliminated them in Washoe County School District.
Tell me a little more about that.
The difference between closing the gap, which means there is a gap between—but if you eliminate them, there is no gap. That means we are making sure that every kid makes it to graduation. You can close the gap and still have kids not make it. But if you eliminate them, then we’re saying every kid’s going to make it.
How long do you think that would take?
Now, see, you’re asking me tough questions. That question, if I told you it was going to take X amount of time, I would be unrealistic. I don’t know, because, you know that each year we get a new crop of kids that come up. But I think that as we continue to work, we progress-monitor and we look at what we have and we make sure the kids who we have during that time get what they need and hopefully we get to the finish line of every kid on to graduation.