TEMPERANCE - Debby Kuhl is unabashed when she admits that she is an educational policy wonk.
Just don't suggest to Mrs. Kuhl that her vocation isn't cool.
"I've always been interested in curriculum. It's actually a passion of mine," said Mrs. Kuhl, Bedford's new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "I get teased about it regularly, but I love to read about new trends in education."
Mrs. Kuhl, who's been with Bedford for more than 30 years, was hired last week by the Bedford Board of Education to permanently fill the administrative position vacated by Jon White when he became the district's superintendent.
A longtime reading specialist at Temperance Road Elementary, Mrs. Kuhl will be paid a salary of $86,150 in her new position.
A Toledo native and graduate of Whitmer High School and the University of Toledo, Mrs. Kuhl started teaching at Bedford "right out of college," she said last week. Though she still lives in Sylvania, she said she has never regretted the opportunity to work on the north side of the state line.
"[Bedford] has a wonderful board, wonderful administrators, and wonderful teachers. When you know you're going to be working with a lot of people who are going to be cooperative, tolerant, and helpful, it makes it easier," Mrs. Kuhl said.
As a dedicated follower of research into what classroom tactics work and what doesn't, Mrs. Kuhl said she's reached a number of conclusions over the years.
But the main thing she's come to understand is that education isn't a "one-size-fits-all" kind of thing.
"I don't think that there is a perfect method for educating a student. I think there are a lot of sound methods, but when you get right down to the classroom and the individuals, you have to view it on an individual basis," Mrs. Kuhl explained. "Good teachers are eclectic in nature and have lots of skills to draw from. What works for one student doesn't work for another."
The other thing she said she's come to understand over the years is that there really are no easy silver-bullet answers for education.
"Education is a wonderful field because we're always learning more and more about what works and what doesn't. You're never done. There's always something new to learn," Mrs. Kuhl said.
Mrs. Kuhl had worked as a reading specialist at Temperance Road Elementary for about a decade before being tapped to fill the assistant superintendent's position on a part-time, interim basis during the 2004-05 school year. At Temperance Road, she was one of the key components of the schools designation earlier this year as one of about three dozen "Blue Ribbon" schools in Michigan.
Mr. White said the woman who will be replacing him in his previous job couldn't be more qualified to direct what gets taught to students.
"Debby is an expert in curriculum issues," Mr. White said. "She's particularly talented in the language arts, reading, and writing, and we believe that strong knowledge [in those areas] is the gateway to all the other subject areas."
Mrs. Kuhl said that Mr. White has made it easier for her to make the transition from her previous role to her new one.
"I was in an acting role for the last year, so that has helped. But there will definitely be a transition. There's certainly a lot to learn, and I'm eager to learn," Mrs. Kuhl said. "[Mr. White] is going to sort of mentor the transition because he has such a clear understanding of this position. But it's nice to have someone to bounce things off of and get a firm answer back."
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