Diane Kline returned to the Oakdale High School campus a bit earlier than she has for the past 15 years. On July 1, 2021 the long time OHS Social Studies teacher reported not only for a new role on campus, but to a new office and much more.
Returning from summer break a few weeks before she normally would during her teaching days, Kline is now serving the OHS student body in a Vice Principal role overseeing Athletics, as well as ASB activities.
As a long time athlete, former water polo coach and longtime district employee, Kline shared she’s thrilled with the opportunity she’s been given.
First joining the Mustang team in 2006, the Ceres High graduate shared her interview with then-Principal Rick Jones quickly found her not only in the classroom, but poolside as well. She pointed to some persuasive parents as well as a love for the sport and said she enjoyed her time coaching water polo for OHS.
“We had some very successful teams throughout the years,” she stated modestly.
In 2014 she made the decision to return to school in pursuit of her administrative credential.
“I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. You know when you’re little there’s only like four jobs. Teacher was what I wanted to be,” she said of her natural draw to education.
Once completing her extended education, she began thinking through her role as coach and opted to step down a few years back.
“I just figured that an opportunity would come up sometime and I’d be prepared,” she said.
Hearing of the retirement of former Superintendent Marc Malone, struck Kline both with sadness as well as awareness. Recognizing that typically when a seat of that type opens up, shifts begin to happen within the district … and so they did.
While she had not anticipated the opening being at the campus where she had spent the first 15 years of her career, she decided to throw her name in for consideration. It’s a move that while it proved to be beneficial, also became a bit nerve wracking as she found herself on the other side of the interview table amongst her colleagues.
“I had a lot of experiences that were going to help make this transition,” she shared, noting still being nervous all the same.
“It’s been kind of fun,” she said of the first weeks of the school year. “So far so good. It’s just different (than teaching). There’s not really a comparison. It’s just a lot of asking the right questions.”
The new vice principal shared while the role is very different, there is still a feeling of gratitude to not be in a position of a new job and building new relationships. She knows the administration, as well as the staff and many of the students.
“In the last eight or nine years, I’ve done a lot of stuff on campus that was being a leader but in a teacher role,” she said of past experience. “I already know a lot of kids and have connections with kids.”
While being familiar with the campus and campus operations is helpful, Kline shared she never assumes she knows everything she’s supposed to know, recognizing that the office space is not the only thing different within her new position.
As for the many things which are different in her new role, Kline stated, “It’s really just about being diligent about keeping up with e-mails (regarding changes and guidelines). It’s not the most challenging but requires the most attention at this point.
“Part of coming into the role was about making sure they’re continuing systems that benefit students,” she continued. “How do we ensure that everything we’re doing on campus, really does target the goals that our district has laid out?”
She noted three key points for her which are to measure, evaluate and be reflective.
“I think that’s a motivation for me, making sure that everything we do has a positive impact. I think it’s just about being flexible,” she explained. “At this point, yesterday and today have not been the same.”
Looking ahead to a school year which will be vastly different than any she’s seen to date, Kline is challenged by the question to describe herself in one word. Following moments of reflection and contemplation she chose “thoughtful.” As the parent of a special needs child that word holds multiple levels of meaning for the administrator.
“One of the things I always try to do is be thoughtful of where other people are coming from,” she shared. “Everyone has different experiences than you. Taking the time to really think how is this going to impact other people, how is this person going to feel about this?”
Adjusting in her new desk, boxes still full signifying much settling in taking place for the new VP, Kline looks out her window and reflects on where she finds herself now.
“I didn’t really have a whole vision of what it might look like if I moved into admin, but as I got to know how a school has things separated out, I knew for sure that I did not ever want to be in a role that was just discipline,” she confided. “That would be soul crushing to just deal with discipline all day every day. So I really like that it’s not separated out that way here. This is like a happy combination of things I enjoy doing.”