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Knights Ferry School Welcomes Dr. J
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Dr. Janet Skulina or, as she is known around the Knights Ferry School campus, Dr. J, is the newest member of the Bobcat family. Dr. Skulina is the newly appointed Superintendent/Principal of the hillside school east of Oakdale. Teresa Hammond/The Leader


The bell tower is once again active at the “Little School on the Hill” as the 2015-2016 school year has begun and a new Superintendent/Principal has reported for duty at Knights Ferry School.

Dr. Janet Skulina is among one of the newest Bobcats to call the hillside campus home and she shared she could not be more pleased. Now entering her 28th year in education, the administrator shared she felt the campus is “where I’m supposed to be.”

Known as ‘Dr. J’ by the Bobcat student body, Skulina was previously employed with Tracy Joint Unified School District as the Director of Special Education. That was a position she held for six years, following a number of years as a Special Education teacher.

“I just had this feeling that I wanted to do something different that would benefit kids,” Skulina said. “I thought you know what, I’d like to have my own school. I was looking for something different.”

What she didn’t realize at the time of the thought, was that a small school on the outskirts of Oakdale would be one such school.

“I was kind of tired of being out in the forefront on things with kids and nothing ever happening,” she said of her former district role.

“I’m supposed to be here. I love coming to work and I hope my staff feels the same as well,” she added.

Skulina admitted that her new role looks drastically different from the one she left in her office of Tracy Joint Unified. Whether it be cleaning up after an ill student, monthly coffee talks with Bobcat parents or helping a struggling student in her office, she embraces it all.

“What I’m finding is a lot of my experiences have dove tailed me here,” she said, “because I was never the type to sit in my office. You just do what needs to be done because that’s what the kids need.”

Skulina first interviewed with Knights Ferry School Board earlier this year. She admitted to being unfamiliar with the town at the time, yet instantly fell in love with the setting.

“I was drawn to the beauty of the area and then the people,” she shared. “I love this little town.

“I have felt very supported by the school board,” she continued, “and part of it is that I really try and listen to what they want to do with the school. We’re currently working toward Place-based education; we’re going in that direction. They were very clear about using the resources that we have around the school to educate our students. I was attending a conference for new superintendents and PBE was brought up. It’s very exciting.”

Just 10 weeks into her position, Skulina shared she recognized both the uniqueness and the opportunities the campus offers its students and their families, noting plans to continue to capitalize on things such as the environment, town activity and parent involvement to grow the student body.

“We draw a lot of students from outside of the area,” she said. “We have to create something special and capitalize on the uniqueness of it. The saying goes, be the change you wish to see in the world. I couldn’t do that where I was before.

“Maybe that’s what makes this such a special place,” she summarized, “everyone here is focused on what’s best for the kids. It’s just that way.”