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Medlin Takes On New Role With School District
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Longtime educator Catherine Medlin was recently promoted to Director of Child Welfare and Attendance for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

Catherine Medlin just may have found the job truly suited for her. The longtime Oakdale Joint Unified School District employee with a varied educational background was recently promoted to Director of Child Welfare and Attendance.

With 25 years of experience at Oakdale Joint Unified and a previous educational career at Juvenile Hall, Medlin was ready for the transition from Principal of Oakdale Junior High to the District Office.

During her tenure with OJUSD, Medlin has served as a fourth grade teacher, OJHS Vice-Principal, as well as Principal for the past two years.

The responsibilities of the new position to OJUSD include: attendance, school safety, student discipline, universal complaint procedures, home and hospital and Title 9 complaints.

Most of these items, the administrator shared, she’s dealt with at a smaller level in her previous position as OJHS Principal.

“This is my ninth year in Admin,” Medlin shared. “I stayed only at the Junior High and these are the issues I dealt with: Student discipline and school safety. It was kind of an exciting thing when the job came up. Not knowing who they were looking for of if they were trying to find someone experienced in this field.”

The administrator decided to throw her name into the hat, sharing, “I like the thought of this position and everything it can do for our kids.”

She also said the students are why she got into education.

“I love working with the kids and I have great connections and relationships with the kids, but I feel like - it was my prayer that God put me in a spot that I could be the most helpful to them.”

Medlin further said she felt she had to follow what that could be, whether it was this position or the position she was in at the time. She simply asked for God to lead her in the right direction.

According to Medlin, while the Director of Child Welfare and Attendance position is new to OJUSD, it has existed prior in larger districts.

In support of the position and its mission, Stanislaus County Office of Education will be putting out an attendance campaign for all the districts to be a part of it. Medlin’s job will be to make sure all the campuses have the info needed about the attendance campaign. One detail which may be of interest to the OHS Mustangs is the potential to win a car for attendance.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect attendance for the whole year,” she said. “It can just be your name gets put into the drawing every month you have perfect attendance.”

Of the many things aimed at being demonstrated during the campaign the premier highlight is the importance of in person attendance.

“Just kind of pointing out that every day counts and getting into school is the most important thing,” Medlin said, noting the challenges of post-COVID learning and its effects on students, as well as families.

“Having interactions with your teachers and your subject matter. I think COVID just kind of put us into a feeling of we can be home sometimes and we need to take breaks sometimes,” she continued. “There is an accuracy to that but kids need to be in school. Kids need to be interacting socially. Kids need to be interacting with their teachers and academically.”

The passionate administrator highlighted many of the struggles faced by the district and its administrators including attendance, discipline and mental health.

“I feel like this is a great time for our district to invest in a position like this,” she said of her new hat, adding that the administration is trying to let them know students need to be at school for school. If students aren’t there to learn and be with peers then they need to find a different solution for them.

“We need to make sure discipline is in order, conduct codes are in order and that everybody knows what’s expected of them,” she shared. “If they cannot meet those expectations then we need to figure out a better placement.”

Sharing further thoughts, Medlin noted it feels like a great time to put this position in place since some things fell apart during COVID. That makes this a great opportunity to show how attendance affects a student being successful in school.

“The bottom line is every parent wants what’s best for their kids,” she said. “Some go about it in a different way, but if we can come back together and truly understand … I think everybody is quite aware that if you do not attend school, you will not do well in school.”

Medlin reiterated her belief that everybody really just wants what’s best for their kids. However, there can’t be fighting at school, she said, adding that parents sometimes get frustrated when kids get in trouble, as they try to enforce the conduct code.

“At the same time, they get mad when their students are witnessing these bad behaviors,” she noted. “In both of those instances, parents just want what’s best for their kids and are really just trying to work through these weird times.”

Students of all age levels missed critical years of learning as well as development and socialization during the pandemic and most districts are still trying to catch up.

“It sounds very elementary, but we are talking about kids of all ages,” she stated. “There’s a gap in their learning and their social interactions that’s really showing up.”

Helping students get back on track is key, as well as learning to work with parents who may be overprotective, with kids displaying different levels of anxiety in the classroom and on campus.

“I think we need to face it with eyes wide open,” Medlin continued, which can mean a variety of things when it comes to the individual student.

“I love that what I’m doing will affect the students and comes down to really, really important parts of student life at each site,” she concluded, noting discipline, attendance, school safety, and creating a school site where the students want to be.