Ken Gregorski is the new permanent superintendent for Katy ISD. His first day was Jan. 15, according to the contract approved by the board of trustees and signed Jan. 14.
For the past two years, Gregorski has been KISD’s deputy superintendent overseeing human resources, athletics, and school leadership and support—a department established upon his employment—according to his KISD biography. But Gregorski is no stranger to the district.
Ten years of Gregorski’s 26 years in public education were spent as an assistant and associate principal for Katy High School, he said in an email. His wife is a teacher at Bryant Elementary, and his two children also attended KISD schools, he said.
And being a KISD parent, he said, has influenced his perspective as the district’s superintendent.
“Just like all our parents out there who are taking their students to school every day, helping them with homework, and attending band or athletic competitions, I’m a Katy ISD parent, too,” he wrote in an email. “We’re going through this together, and sharing similar experiences as we prepare our children to be problem solvers, critical thinkers, creative and well-informed citizens.”
Community Impact Newspaper was unable to sit and chat with the new CEO of the 80,000-student-strong district but did receive responses from Gregorski through an email interview. The answers below have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
1. What drew you to teaching and educational administration?
I reflect upon this often and find myself sharing the same experience over and over again because of the long-term impact it has had on my life. While my mother and father were not educators in the traditional sense, they always impressed upon me the value of an education. Likewise, during my early school years, there were so many teachers, principals and other school personnel who truly invested in me. Their influence on my life drew me to public education.
2. What was your first job in public education and how has it shaped you into the superintendent you are now?
I began my career as an educator in 1993 in El Paso ISD where I served as a high school social studies teacher. For me, classroom experience was really fundamental to understanding issues impacting student learning—both academically and socially. I learned some valuable lessons as a classroom teacher. Every learner is different. Being able to provide students personalized learning experiences and choice are key to their growth and continual interest in learning, and of course, school safety is a must. Focusing on our students’ well-being, inside and outside our classrooms is a priority for my administration. That includes everything from social supports, to ensuring our schools have adequate safety and security measures, to providing teachers the resources and tools they need for effective classroom management.
3. What experience do you think has most influenced your leadership style?
My interactions with parents, teachers, principals and other school staff over my 26-year school career most certainly have influenced the way I choose to lead. The leadership traits that I have found most valuable would include the importance of building relationships, involving others in the leadership process and self-reflection as a leader.
4. What is your vision for KISD?
My vision will always be the vision of the board and this community. Our collaborative efforts with our staff and community has allowed the district to reach some significant milestones over the past few years. This includes overcoming and managing the impact of Hurricane Harvey on our campuses, and the development of the district’s first ever five-year strategic plan and greater student access to career and technical courses and Advanced Placement programs.
We are also in the middle of implementing the 2017 bond, with new schools being built, campuses being renovated, and security and technology being updated across the district. All of these actions and initiatives taking place are a part of our larger plan focused on supporting good teaching and learning on our campuses now and into the future.
As superintendent of schools, I’ll be working to ensure that we maintain our current direction as a district and that we’re taking the appropriate steps to build capacity for continued success so that each and every one of our students upon graduation, has the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce or college.
5. What do you think will be the most challenging issue for KISD in the coming years?
Katy ISD is a fast-growth school district. Making sure that we are meeting our standard for providing unparalleled learning experiences to the nearly 100,000 students our district is projected to see within the next 10 years is certainly a priority. Our students, staff, parents, businesses, faith-based leaders—our whole community—must continuously pull together to identify the best ways to serve our learners. This includes focusing our efforts on retaining quality teachers in every classroom, developing personalized learning experiences and making certain we’re consistently meeting the diverse needs of our students.
I believe that we are on the right path to ensuring these things happen with our community-driven strategic plan. It’s a blueprint for how we are going to provide the resources and tools necessary to support learning and student well-being, safety and security in our schools, and support our campus leaders and teachers through relevant professional learning.