ZCS’ Successor Superintendent Rebecca Coffman
This month, we are pleased to feature on our cover Zionsville Community School (ZCS) successor Superintendent Rebecca Coffman. Coffman was named to the position by the ZCS Board of Trustees earlier this summer and will be officially taking the helm upon ZCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Robison’s retirement in February of 2023.
Coffman, a Zionsville resident, is a graduate of Butler University. Coffman was hired to begin her teaching career at Zionsville Middle School (ZMS) in 2001. She taught 7th and 8th grade science while also serving as a coach and club sponsor for various activities. She also served as an Assistant Principal at ZMS for 5 years prior to leading as Building Principal at Union Elementary School. In 2015, Coffman transitioned to a district leadership role, where she has served ZCS alongside Dr. Robison for the past 7 years.
Elevating Talent from Within
ZCS Superintendent Robison shared his thoughts on why he feels Coffman is the right person to succeed him upon his retirement.
“Mrs. Coffman brings integrity, intellect, experience, work ethic and so much more,” Robison stated. “She is a real person and is genuine and accessible as a leader. She is decisive and very clear about what needs to happen in best services for the community’s youth. As the mom of three ZCS students, Becky [Coffman] brings a perspective that is key to understanding both the successes and challenges of this big, human operation. She is able to capitalize on the strengths of ZCS and the communities we serve while also being collaborative when we err and when helping with challenges arising from variables outside the school district’s control. ZCS will thrive with Mrs. Coffman as the leader, and I am proud to have served alongside her for the last segment of my career.”
Reciprocally, Coffman shared what she has learned from Dr. Robison that has helped prepare her for this next chapter of her career at ZCS.
“I think, of all the things I’ve learned from Dr. Robison, it boils down to three themes: relationships, deeply caring about the details of children’s educational experiences and building capacity in others,” Coffman reflected. “Focusing on these three things in all tasks and challenges we face helps ensure we keep our focus on kids and helps us continue building an environment that serves all children well.”
Coffman’s 30/60/90 Goals
Coffman was highly sought after by several Indiana school districts, and when asked why she chose to accept the [superintendent] position at ZCS, Coffman replied, “I love this community, and I am very passionate about ensuring all children have the opportunity to grow academically — and to be seen, known, heard and loved in their school environments,” Coffman expressed. “This is my ‘why’ on accepting the role of superintendent — to be in a role where I can make the most positive impact in the lives of children and teachers. The work is hard, and I only want to do [the work] in a community that I truly love and that I want to see be successful.”
This December, Coffman will be sharing with the ZCS Board her view of the early months of 2023, which will mark the beginning of her tenure as superintendent.
Coffman added, “You can bet that it will be strong on listening all across the district and sharing my vision that has been forged by two decades of experience in this ever-growing and success-driven community.”
Assessing the District’s Strengths and Talents
As the community and the school district continue to grow exponentially, we asked Coffman to address and speak on the most pressing challenges the district faces and to identify some of its strengths.
“Our community continues to be one in which education is valued, and we have engaged families we walk alongside in this journey for children,” Coffman said. “We have exceptional capacity and talent in this community, and those traits are mirrored in each of our schools. People continue to move to our community in large part due to our schools and what we have collectively built here for children, but as our community continues to expand, we will need to engage in strategic planning to ensure we are providing robust learning experiences and environments that honor commitments we have made to the community.”
Coffman continued, “As we grow, planning for new school spaces while maintaining tax rate stability will be a considerable challenge, but in reflecting on the planning for Trailside, we were able to achieve this goal. Trailside just opened this year, but prudent planning by our board and leadership team began in 2016. It’s this long view that is a challenge, and I’m honored to be a part of this important legacy for our community.”
Currently, the ZCS district boasts just under 8,000 students, and it welcomed 54 new teachers at the start of the 2022–23 school year.
“As we welcome new teachers, we bring them into our philosophy and understanding of working together — making sure that we have horizontal articulation and vertical articulation as students transition through each of our program offerings,” Coffman said. “That is a big focus for us — making sure that we are transitioning students well as they move through elementary to middle school, middle school to high school and then beyond the K–12 environment. We are making sure that we are intentional about those transitions.”
The New School Year is off to a Positive Start
The ZCS Board of Trustees, Dr. Robison, Coffman and several other ZCS representatives and community leaders celebrated the opening of Trailside Elementary School and the construction continues at Zionsville Community High School, with much progress being made prior to the first day of the new school year.
“Our long target goal has been to open the dining commons in Dec/Jan, ideally making the transition during winter break,” Coffman shared. “This is the ideal scenario, and we have a lot of progress to make to hit that goal. Just this week, we provided a construction update during the public board meeting, and I anticipate another update from our construction team during the October meeting as well. Presently, we are in month 15 of a 29-month project, but the dining commons area is the next phase that will be open and accessible to serve students. The north addition will be open a year from now as we begin the 2023–2024 school year.”
Dr. Robison weighed in on what he’s observing in what is his final start of a new school year at ZCS, as he and Coffman prepare for the transition of leadership in early 2023.
“I think the preparation and coordination of literally thousands of people has yielded a very smooth start thus far,” Robison said. “It’s wonderful to see, and I believe that our prudent planning serves us well. We are very fortunate to have great families, great faculty and [great] support staff. I’ve always been bullish on this place because of those things.”
Coffman concluded, “It’s wonderful having the renewed energy and having everyone being in this space of excitement for a new school year and new beginnings and building new relationships and strengthening old relationships with colleagues and students. Being on the same page and collectively supporting our children — that is the heart of community.”