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Jay Curtis
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Jay Curtis

I was born and raised in Wyoming. Without too much detail, I will share that I was a child of divorce and poverty, and had considerable trauma as an early teen when my father was paralyzed from the neck down in a work accident. In-spite of those obstacles, I was the first in my family, including a large extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. to graduate from College. I truly credit my wife, whom I met when I was 17, with encouraging me to enroll and finish my degree. I worked my way through college doing ranch work, then retail sales at a western wear store. I have been married for 26 years to one of my true inspirations in life, and we have 3 adult children and am currently an expectant grandpa. Education is my second profession, though my first was a pretty short lived stint as a real estate appraiser. I began my education career as a substitute teacher in Bakersfield, Ca, but quickly was hired for my own classroom as a Math teacher and one period of Agriculture. Within 2 years, I was solely teaching agriculture, having grown my program from 30 students to over a hundred. I helped my students charter and FFA program that when I left in 2007, had over 170 students. I moved my family back to my home state of Wyoming, where I was hired as a K-12 principal at a rural mountain school, in Meeteetse, WY. I have always said that sometimes you choose a job, and sometimes the job chooses you. Well, the superintendency chose me. After just two years, the Board selected me to replace the outgoing superintendent, and the fit was instantaneous. I was only 35 at the time. I spent 7 years in that role, and after 9 years as an administrator in that district, I was the longest-standing administrator there in three decades. I then moved to Powell Wyoming to serve as superintendent in a district 10 times larger than the one I left. Though nervous at first, I immediately found that the leadership and people skills are the same, regardless of district size. The job is truly about establishing great relationships throughout the district and community. Throughout my career, I have dedicated myself to high levels of involvement in the professional organizations that represent my position. First, I was highly involved in the California Agriculture Teachers Association, rising to state-level leadership. When I became a superintendent, I immediately became involved in our state association of WASA, as well as AASA, again rising to state-level leadership in WASA, and Governing Board and Exec Committee for WASA. I believe in serving the organizations that work so hard to serve our profession. The most cherished aspect of that involvement though, is the networking with other superintendents, and the lifelong friendships that have come as a result of that participation.

About the Superintendent of the Year:

As a sponsor of the superintendent of the Year program, First Student wants to recognize these leaders in a special way this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption that has affected all education systems but also the innovative approaches that the superintendents and school districts addressed through radio, television, zoom and take-home packages. These superintendents are the very best in public  education and are needed more than ever during this crisis.

About the Award:

The superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, The School superintendents Association, 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
  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Community Involvement

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