If the home is where the heart is, then there’s no question why so many people call Menlo Park Academy their home. Menlo’s origins come from the hearts of parents, who were willing to make sacrifices and take risks for the success of their children. This dynamic of love, flexibility, and child-centered learning is what drew Paige Baublitz-Watkins to Menlo in 2012 and what has drawn her back for this upcoming school year.
For Menlo families that have been around since the very beginning, the name Paige Baublitz-Watkins is extremely familiar as from 2012-2014 she was the Director of Menlo Park Academy. However, this upcoming school year, she returns under a new title: Director of Gifted Curriculum and Instruction. In this position, her responsibilities will include managing personalized education plans and evaluating curriculum, along with bigger picture tasks like working with teachers and families to enhance a child’s overall learning experience.
Ms. Baublitz Watkins’ years away from Menlo allowed her to grow her skill set and find that she has a real passion for curriculum and instruction. In her most recent position at the Epiphany School, an independent school in Seattle, Washington, she had the opportunity to experiment with creative programming and worked with teachers to construct inventive ways for children to learn. She is eager to bring these grown skills and ideas back to Menlo.
Menlo Park Academy was the first administrative leadership position Ms. Baublitz-Watkins held, and going back after all these years truly feels full circle for her. “Returning to Menlo is like returning home in many ways,” she smiles, “both home to Ohio and back to my ‘leadership home’ at Menlo.”
As a strong advocate that family engagement is a pivotal part of a child’s educational journey, Ms. Baublitz-Watkins hopes that her position and the systems she will build help families better understand their child as a learner and as a Menlo student.
“It can be challenging to have gifted childrens’ needs met. A lot of families sought out Menlo for this exact purpose, so I want to make Menlo Park Academy a deep and meaningful option for these people,” she elaborates. While she won’t be the first point of contact for families—as she is a big champion for the view that a child’s teacher always knows his or her best—she does look forward to connecting with families in a team setting, where she is a part of a larger group of people who work to create connections and have conversations.
With the school year starting in a few short weeks, Ms. Baublitz-Watkins is excited to get to Menlo and dive back into the community, ready to understand the bigger picture of who Menlo is now before taking any action. However, once she accomplishes this, she has an abundance of resourceful and original ideas to begin.
A self-proclaimed “data nerd,” Ms. Baublitz-Watkins is excited to look at Menlo’s student’s assessment data and use it to help create a sustainable curriculum and instruction framework that is consistent with Menlo’s dedication to maintaining excellence. “Most of what I plan to do stems from a backward design, you start where you want to go and work backward to figure out how to get there,” she shares. “Teachers and leadership will always come and go, so by using the data we have now to build an unwavering foundation of what Menlo is, anyone who works for the institution has a framework of what Menlo does for children and what it was founded on.”
As Ms. Baublitz-Watkins returns with a newfound specific focus on curriculum and instruction, she is ready to work hand-in-hand with Menlo Park Academy’s staff, students, and families to continue to build the feeling of “heart” and “home”, feelings that brought her back to Menlo in the first place.