A lifelong love of learning was sparked by my beloved grandmother, who never finished 8th grade due to the war and the depression. A master teacher, she developed the resources, materials and lesson plans for Bible School. I recall fondly the rhythm of her week spent mapping and sequencing the content by age, developing lesson plans, materials and planning engaging activities. Though she had formal training, she taught me the science of teaching, the art of student engagement, and the importance of the heart in developing relationships with everyone.
My first position was teaching French and Spanish to middle school part-time and serving as a para in the behavior disorder classroom the other part of the day. I moved to a large high school and added cheerleading coach to my responsibilities, further developing relationships.
A variety of leadership roles prepared me to be a successful high school assistant principal, middle school principal, associate superintendent. I challenged status quo and made changes in programming to ensure all students had equal access and opportunity for success. While leading in these areas, I was able to work with families, case managers, and advocates. This was especially important as I became associate superintendent overseeing educational services such as curriculum, federal programs, library, career and technical education, ELL, special education, data and assessment, and gifted education in a district with 30,000 students. Next, I moved into administrative services supporting the secondary administrators in the day to day operations, providing leadership, mentoring and general oversight of all secondary schools. After talking about taking risks in a public presentation, I took my own advice and pursued the superintendency.
In 2015, I moved 1,200 miles to begin as a superintendent in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While every day is challenging, it is rewarding to see the impact every decision can make on the life of a child.
As I reflect on choices in my career, I have always put students’ needs above all else and have held true to my values that every child should be treated as if they were my own. It is fortunate to be in a smaller community where relationships can be cultivated more readily and the potential to impact student growth is a part of every day. While not every decision is welcomed by all, people know me and know I care deeply for their children.
I have been described as intense and impatient at times, have a can-do attitude, a dedication to service, and a strong work ethic. Mentors supported and challenged me to act boldly and courageously; while constantly questioning the WHAT and the HOW because the WHY is too important to do anything less than my best right now.
Past AASA Wyoming Superintendent of the Year Winners:
2022 Wyoming Superintendent of the Year: Jay Curtis
About the Award:
The Superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools.
State-level winners are selected on the following criteria:
- Leadership for Learning
- Community Involvement