The Summit School District is set to have a new superintendent after nearly 10 hours of interviews in total on Thursday, March 10 and Friday, March 11.
The district hosted two interview sessions for the three superintendent finalists, Bethany Massey, Sheldon Rosenkrance and Anthony Byrd, on Thursday and Friday. The Summit School District School Board will vote for the new superintendent at a meeting on Tuesday, March 15.
On Friday, the judging panel asked each finalist 20 questions with additional follow-ups in interviews that lasted an hour and a half for each candidate.
Massey, who currently works as principal of the Lake County School District in Leadville, is the only nominee with a professional connection to Summit County.
From 2008 to 2010, she worked as the District Assessment and Technology Officer. She said this experience would help her excel in the role.
“I did a lot of initial growth in my profession here in the district,” she said. “As a result, I have developed strong personal and professional relationships in this community that I truly value.”
Asked about her leadership style, Massey said it’s all about relationships. She spoke of past experiences in which she met with the community to fully understand the needs of the students.
Massey said she will continue to focus on relationships with her work as superintendent, while portraying herself as an approachable and approachable leader of the district.
“If I don’t come across as approachable to individuals, then you have no chance of being open and honest,” she said.
Massey said she will also focus her efforts on improving literacy, special education and support for English language learners in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If hired, Rosenkrance would come to Summit from the Estes Park School District, where he spent more than seven years as a superintendent.
In her interview, Rosenkrance spoke about the current “recalibration” her school district is going through two years into the pandemic. If hired, he would focus his efforts on a recalibration similar to Summit, identifying where the district is lacking in academics, support and fairness.
“We have to look back and say, ‘OK, what’s important to us? What areas have we somehow missed? and do that again,” he said.
Rosenkrance said his experience working as a superintendent at Estes Park will come in handy when recruiting and retaining high quality staff. Like Summit, Estes Park is often a difficult place to live for people with expensive housing and limited daycare.
With these challenges in mind, stressed the importance of ensuring that staff feel supported and valued in their work.
“We’re not just going to work as a number,” he said. “We are part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Byrd is the only out-of-state finalist among the group. He currently works as Executive Director of Teach for America Washington, a nonprofit organization that places high-quality teachers in underserved areas.
Byrd highlighted his experience working with Spanish-speaking communities as a bilingual teacher early in his career as a quality that will help him succeed as a superintendent.
“It’s very difficult to dig deeper into the gaps and the pathways of opportunity and the things you care about without being deeply connected with the communities that are historically the most marginalized,” he said. “To get to this point, speaking the language is a really important thing.”
Byrd has promised to place a strong emphasis on fairness as superintendent. He said the 2020 murder of George Floyd was an eye-opening experience for him, in which he had to come to terms with how his experience as a white person differs from that of people of color. As superintendent, he hopes to foster conversations about equity while listening to the community and its needs.
He also hopes to help the district expand its early childhood education opportunities, especially as the county struggles to meet child care needs.
“The best investment, I personally believe, is birth at age 5 so students can start school on time and ready to go,” he said.
On Thursday, about 49 community stakeholders, including teachers, staff, parents and community members, asked candidates the same set of 15 questions and scored each candidate from 1 to 5 in five areas: leadership, communication, cultural competence, visibility and experience.
Questions posed by stakeholders ranged from mental health to how each candidate would help transition the school from the pandemic to regular in-person learning. Stakeholders also focused on how each nominee would contribute to improving resources for bilingual students.
Walt Cooper, a representative from the district’s external recruitment consulting firm McPherson & Jacobson, read the results of the stakeholder interviews at Friday’s meeting. Cooper said none of the three candidates received 1s and there were very few 2s in all five categories, indicating that all of the finalists met the basic criteria for the position.
After tabulating stakeholder scores across the five categories, Cooper said Byrd had the highest ranking with an overall score of 4.4. Rosenkrance was second with a score of 4.0 and Massey came third with a score of 3.7.
At Friday’s meeting, Board Chair Kate Hudnut encouraged members of the public who were unable to attend the stakeholder interviews to submit their comments on the three finalists to [email protected] orgwhich is an email address sent to all board members.
The board will discuss its thoughts on the three finalists and vote in a meeting at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15 at the Professional Development Building located at 150 School Road in Frisco. The meeting will also be broadcast via Zoom.
Devin Hinskon contributed to this report.