By Kristen Czaban
The Sheridan Press
BIG HORN — Ten parents of Big Horn Elementary School students had a chance in recent weeks to weigh in on who will take over the role of principal for their children.
In addition to interviews with administrators and school district staff, Sheridan County School District 1 invited the parents to be a part of the hiring process before voting to put Kathy Powers at the helm Monday night.
“I learned a lot about the K-12 system — the challenges and the changes that have happened since I was there,” Wendy Smith said.
Smith, marketing director for the Northern Wyoming Community College District, was one of the parents involved in the process. Her son, a kindergartner this year, attends the school.
Smith said she was most interested in each candidate’s view regarding the direction education is heading — on a national level, statewide level and in Big Horn.
“I also learned a great deal about technology and the important role it plays in the classroom,” she said.
“As a parent, I was also interested in things like their communication style and what role they see for parents in the whole education project, especially in Big Horn.”
SCSD1 Superintendent Marty Kobza said Monday that the district tries to follow a similar process when hiring all of its district-level leadership positions.
“It is so important for the people in those positions to fit with the culture of the community and the staff,” Kobza said.
Each candidate for the BHE principal position went through three interviews — one with administrators, one with staff and teachers and one with the group of parents.
Kelly Pascal Gould is the parent of two Big Horn students, a sixth-grader and a second-grader. She also does public relations work for the school district.
“I really enjoyed getting an immediate depth of understanding about what each of the candidates had to offer,” Gould said. “I really had a chance to look at their credentials before they were introduced to the community as a whole.”
Gould said Powers stood out to her among the candidates because she had been an elementary teacher for a couple of decades in addition to serving at the administrator level. Gould said she also felt Powers had an interesting take on differentiating instruction, meaning providing challenges for those students who are ready to move forward while simultaneously providing extra help for students who need it.
Powers was hired with an annual salary of $78,698.
She will begin her term at BHE in the 2014-2015 school year.
Powers spent the last 15 years as a principal and elementary educator near Kodiak, Alaska. She earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Wyoming and Master of Education from the University of Alaska.
“Kathy has the right experience and energy to lead Big Horn Elementary,” SCSD1 Superintendent Marty Kobza said in a press release. “She brings significant experience with differentiated instruction and career and college readiness standards, which is the direction we’re taking with all students in our district. SCSD1 also aims to achieve a district-wide minimum of 90 percent proficiency in math and reading, and we believe that her experience will ensure we continue on this path.”
In 2012 the SCSD1 achieved an average proficiency of 92.3 percent in math and 86.8 percent in reading, while the state of Wyoming achieved 78.7 percent and 77.9 percent, respectively.
“Big Horn Elementary’s teachers, families and students have created a positive, pro-active culture and I’m thrilled to help lead them into the future,” Powers said in a press release. “I’m also looking forward to living in such a beautiful locale with a wonderful quality of life. My family and I are very happy to be joining the Big Horn community and returning to Wyoming.”