County superintendent honored as 'trailblazer'

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters accepted the Trailblazer Award for his dedication to after school programs that benefit local students.

Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters was honored at the recent Region 2 Expanded Learning Services Summer Institute in Chico for his commitment to after school programs that benefit local students.

Held at the Chico State University campus, Walters received the Trailblazer Award, while Maria “Lupe” Valdez, Siskiyou Afterschool For Everyone Program Site Coordinator at Montague Elementary School, received an Unsung Hero Award.

Walters was recognized for his commitment as a school administrator in operating after school and summer programs before federal and state funding was a reality. He was an educational leader in the field of expanded learning long before these types of programs became popular. 

Walters has worked in both the agriculture and logging industries before earning his teaching and administrative credentials. Since beginning his career in education, Walters has held a range of positions besides county superintendent, including teacher, district superintendent/principal, including five years as the superintendent of the Shasta Valley Consortium. 

A lifelong citizen of Siskiyou County, Walters has a solid reputation within the community, and is privileged to serve its citizens, students, and districts. He not only supports expanded learning programs, but early childhood education and works to improve and increase the current level of services available in Siskiyou County. His collaboration with county agencies and local service organizations, such as First 5 Siskiyou Commission, Siskiyou Community Services Council, and the Student Attendance Review Board confirm his commitment to provide educational leadership, resources, and services to school districts and families to ensure learning for all students.

Walters is the President of the National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition Board representing education. He is also President of the California Forest County Schools Coalition. Walters brings recognition to Siskiyou County and its unique situation as a representative for rural after-school programs at the national level. 

Other Trailblazer Award recipients included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Moody, Sam Piha, Jodi Grant, Andi Fletcher, and Michael Funk, all leaders in the field of expanded learning.

The “Unsung Hero” Award is given each year to acknowledge the individuals who serve selflessly the many students and families within the region. Awardees are caring, worthy role models who make significant contributions to the expanded learning programs they serve.  

Nominated by Montague Elementary School Principal Matthew Dustan, Valdez received the nomination for being dedicated to the school, students, and parents not only through her careful balancing of compliance and budget items, but through her positive and constructive relationships with everyone in the community.

“Lupe works constantly to expand and improve the activities provided to the students during SAFE, never settling for the status quo,” said Dustan, who was in attendance at the conference to present Valdez with her award. “During SAFE Ms. Valdez helps students to grow both academically and socially, treating all children with respect, and helps to make even the most difficult student feel needed.”