We’re just a few weeks away from the start of the school year, but the new head of the Rochester City School District is already three days into the job.

Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams is making the rounds, learning from administrators and students about what’s working – and what isn’t.

Deane-Williams toured the Edison campus on Wednesday, taking the pulse of those who have a passion for working and learning here. 

Deane-Williams is already making some changes, beginning with the way the district is organized and operates. 

The superintendent has created chiefs that will supervise principals and schools and report directly to her.

“One of the things that we will be looking to do here is build capacity and understanding of relational coordination – the work of Jody Hoffer Gittell,” said Deane-Williams. “And looking to industries outside of education for innovation and ideas on how to organize differently.”

Deane-Williams would not say if there will be layoffs in the process, but did say things will run slightly differently at central offices. 

As a self-proclaimed life learner, she met with school leaders to get a better idea of which programs are making the grade – and which are failing.

Students welcomed Deane-Williams as well, and said they are looking forward to her making improvements and a difference while she’s at the helm.

“I hope to see that Edison get better with her being here,” said student Kyla Bennett. “Like, it’s already good, but it should be even extremely better.”

The district faces many challenges, including some of the lowest test scores in the state, as well as poor graduation and attendance rates.

These challenges made meeting with nutrition and safety teams the superintendent’s priority.

“There are ways to partner across the city to ensure adequate food distribution,” Deane-Williams said. “And to make sure that we are mindful of the need to educate families as well as students.”

Solutions to problems that Deane-Williams says, won’t come overnight.