Patricia Cole (third from left), superintendent of Wyandotte Public Schools, who recently was named Michigan Association of School Administrators’ Region 9 Superintendent of the Year for 2011, is congratulated by Chris Wigent (left), superintendent of Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency; Barbara Lott, superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Public Schools and Tri-County Alliance for Public Education Region 9 president; and Thomas Svitkovich, executive director, Tri-County Alliance.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — An ordinary recent workday took a surprising turn for Wyandotte Public Schools Supt. Patricia Cole.
She received the Michigan Association of School Administrator’s Regional Superintendent of the Year Award for 2011.
“It was really exciting,” Cole said. “I was overwhelmed. It was a lot of fun, but it was shocking. I’m not usually surprised.”
Barbara Lott, Region 9 president of the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education and Woodhaven-Brownstown School District superintendent; Christopher Wigent, Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency superintendent; and Thomas Svitkovich, executive director of the alliance; presented the award to Cole on Nov. 11 at a morning meeting. Cole received a plaque commemorating the honor at a Dec. 7 school board meeting.
Cole was named the winner of Region 9, which covers Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The award is presented to winners from each region who display dedication to enriching the lives of children and their communities.
Wyandotte Board of Education Trustee Kathy Bedikian, who nominated Cole, credited her leadership with the district’s recent successes, including a national award for its horticulture program and the inclusion of the high school band in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade. She also praised Cole for her proclivity to help out wherever she is needed, adding that she has donned an orange safety vest to escort elementary school children to buses and vehicles when the school was having a traffic congestion problem. Cole then designed an alternative drop-off method to address the issue.
Bedikian also noted in her nomination letter that Cole has garnered supplemental resources from grants and private business sponsorship to help combat Wyandotte’s status as the lowest-funded district in the state.
“Dr. Cole is our community steward of education,” Bedikian wrote in the letter. “She cares about our children from the early childhood period until graduation.”
Board Treasurer Robert Kirby said Cole has continually been a “trendsetter,” in education, designing early reading programs and implementing new graduation requirements a year before the state mandated them.
“She has challenged her staff and students by not sitting back and waiting for the state to change things,” Kirby said. “If she feels we can push our kids, she develops the curriculum and gets it in motion.”
Cole, who has been employed in the school district for 41 years, said her entire career has been built on the desire to make things a little bit better.
“I always wanted to help make it better,” Cole said, “so whatever job I was in, when I saw the step above me as something that if I did I could get a better project done, it looked good to move on.”
Cole graduated from Trenton High School in 1966 and went on to major in business administration at the University of Michigan. While there, she served as a teacher’s assistant, which helped cement her love of teaching and changed her career path, she said.
Cole said she often wonders what might have happened if she had continued on with her plans of entering the business world instead of teaching.
“I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as rewarding,” she said.
(Contact Andrea Poteet at [email protected])