Meet our Administrators: Ron Banner
Position: Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools
Years in Education: 23
Years at Clover Park: 15
How did you get started in education?
I began my career at a place called Maple Lane, which is a boy's prison in the Juvenile Rehabilitation system in Washington. I taught PE there for eight years and, at that time, I also pursued my master's degree and administrative credentials.
What was the experience of teaching at a boy’s prison like?
It was actually one of the safest places in Washington to teach, just because of the nature of the installation. The students I taught broke every law you can come up with. So, you had to be very objective in your approach with them so you did not let any of your personal feelings hinder their education. My job was to educate them and support them in maturing from whatever point they were at and getting them to another destination in life.
What attracted you to a career in education?
Truthfully, I wanted to do things for kids that weren't done for me educationally. I wanted to help give back to the community I came from and support kids in ways that I feel I wasn’t supported in my education.
As an assistant superintendent, what is your role in the district?
I look at it as an arrow of a flow of support: I support the principal who supports the teacher who supports the kids. If something I do stops that flow and makes a principal do extra work, that turns the arrow around, and now I'm stopping that flow from getting to the kids. So, I really feel it's incumbent on me to support principals. Not blindly, but to support principals in getting that flow of support to teachers and students.
What specifically attracted you to Clover Park School District?
I would say the diversity of the school district. At the time I came into the district, we owned the label of being the most diverse district in Washington. I know other districts have crept up on that, but we're still a very diverse school district. We help a wide range of kids, and not being typecast is really what attracted me to Clover Park.
What surprised you most about working in education?
I think you expect that kids get the quote-unquote basics, and I think what surprised me most is how many kids don't have the basics in life. I was fortunate enough to have both parents and we were a lower-middle class family on a non-commissioned officer salary for my dad. I think I still had more than a lot of what my friends had, and then getting into education, just seeing where kids don't have the basics: Homelessness, not knowing where they're going to be from evening to evening. School is their staple. I think understanding what kids didn't come with so that we could support them when they're here is what surprised me most.
What motivates you?
Intrinsically, my goal is to give back to the community from which I came. I want to make things better than they were when I got here. If I borrow something, say if I borrowed someone’s car, I want it to be better when I give it back to them than when I got it. I think some of my motivation is what I didn't get out of education. I want every student to get what I want for my own children: That's probably my biggest motivator.
What is the best part of your job?
I think the best part is getting into schools and really seeing the work in action. There's nothing better than seeing a student with a smile on their face because they just learned a concept or because they recognize somebody cares about them. I think the best part for me is getting out and seeing the fruits of my labor getting all the way to the students.
What is the hardest part about your job?
I think the hardest part is seeing where students are not getting what they need, and a lot of times that's because we don't understand them. Maybe it's something external to what we're able to do for them because you give your all within the confines of what you have control of and then there are things that happen outside of that where you just feel helpless. I think it's that helpless feeling of when you can't or
when you don't have what you need or a student doesn't have what they need. But even with that, we look to transcend and give. We figure a way out – we figure it out for the kids.
What are your hobbies?
My wife and kids pretty much. I did a lot of youth coaching in the community for my kids and other kids that were part of the community. I think it's just about finding ways to give back, and it's really about being there for my children. One of my kids is 23 and he just graduated from University of Southern California and plays professional football now. I also have one who is 18 and just graduated from Lakes. He's at Eastern Washington University. And then I have a daughter who's the love of my life. She controls everything in our existence and she's an eighth grader at Mann Middle School right now.