Muth leaves behind a legacy as one who strongly advocated for 21st century learning, and brought many advances to the schools she tended to with dedication.
The following remarks are those made during a recent retirement celebration in honor of Muth, along with questions from the Tribune:
MUTH: The words of Martin Luther King have helped to guide me in my work as Superintendent and I think express well one of the key tenets of being a leader. He said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I believe it is essential for the leaders of today to be courageous. They need to lead with vision, a spirit of innovation and a deep commitment to excellence.
The nexus of change brought about by implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the Local Control Funding Formula is profound. This type of institutional change is unprecedented and requires mobilizing people to tackle challenges, and creating conditions that will allow them to thrive. Risk must be accepted as a condition of growth and mistakes celebrated as a tool for continuous growth and improvement.
Early in my career I was given some very important advice that has served me well. My mentor said, “If you don’t see the model you want, become the model. Don’t be limited by what you see; allow yourself to envision the possibilities of what could be.”
Being a superintendent is not for the faint of heart but it is an amazing job and one that has a profound impact on the lives of students, staff and, in truth, the society we live in.
What have you enjoyed most about being Superintendent?
I have truly loved my time as Superintendent. It has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. Working with others to creatively solve problems, and helping to build leadership capacity in others are the most fulfilling aspects of my work. As a visionary leader, I have enjoyed helping to cultivate the seeds of change needed for long range sustainable growth in my district.
What is your fondest memory of being a Superintendent?
My life has been enriched in so many ways by the experience I have had as Superintendent. I remember working with my administrative team on “The Great Marshmallow Challenge,” a great team building activity I learned in my work with the Executive Leadership Center. Watching my team work together, laugh together and problem solve together was very rewarding but the reason it stands out in mind is that it became a transformative activity carried out in classrooms and staff rooms throughout the district as a model for collaborative problem solving. I have many beautiful memories, but that is on that I will cherish forever.
What are you most proud of about your years with the District?
I became Superintendent in December of 2008, during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history. The budget crisis was looming and I was a rookie with tremendous energy but very little practical experience.
The Chinese symbol for crisis is made up of two characters; one represents danger, the other opportunity. In Martinez, rather than hunkering down and riding out the storm, we chose to use that crisis to deeply analyze every policy, practice and expenditure in the district. We turned the crisis into an opportunity for growth and innovation and as a result we were able to thrive, not merely survive.
What are your plans after retirement?
I am truly looking forward to this next chapter in my life. My husband is also retiring and we plan to spend time boating, traveling and spending quality time with our granddaughter and children. I look forward to taking a more active role in many of the volunteer activities I value and in giving back to my community. I have been asked to become an executive consultant coaching and supporting new superintendents and administrators. I envision working on a very limited basis, which will allow us the time to travel and enjoy together this exciting new phase in our lives.
What will you miss most about the District?
There are so many aspects of this work that I will miss. When people ask me if I am counting the days until I retire I always say I am savoring the moments, not counting the days. I have been so fortunate to have a career that is both deeply fulfilling and one that makes a profound impact on the students we serve. I love this work and feel truly blessed to be part of such a dynamic community of thoughtful, caring people. I know that is not always the case and I feel honored to have been able to serve Martinez for the past 10 years.
Martinez is a community that cares about its schools and one that embraces the work we do for children. We have been able to accomplish so much due to the collective efforts of all of the people that are part of Martinez Unified Schools.
I will miss working with like-minded people who truly care about the best interests of the children we serve. We hold ourselves to high standards and work each day to achieve those goals.
What will be your last day working for the District?
My last official day will be June 28.
What are your future hopes for the District?
I am very proud of the work we have accomplished together. I hope that Martinez continues to thrive and grow, and under the leadership of CJ Cammack, I have no doubt that it will.