SHERIDAN — Wearing multiple hats and filling a variety of roles is part of staff culture for small high schools.
Jennifer Betz has served as a 7-12 grade social studies teacher for Arvada-Clearmont High School and will add athletic director and dean of students to her list of responsibilities. Betz said she will have a full class scheduled next year, teaching seven class periods.
Betz has a passion for athletics and coached junior high basketball on and off since college.
Right now, Betz scheduled two hours each day for her administrative responsibilities although she said she knows that might not be enough time to complete everything. The athletic director role also requires working weekends and evenings supervising events.
“Jennifer [Betz] will definitely have a lot on her plate, but she is very capable to do it and we will support her like previous athletic directors in the past,” said Charles Auzqui, Sheridan County School District 3 superintendent.
Regardless of school size, an athletic director is a big job, Auzqui said.
Betz faces an initial challenge of entering new positions and learning time management.
Finding the balance between completing teaching tasks and athletic director responsibilities is something Tongue River High School social studies teacher and athletic director Steven Hanson is figuring out. Two years into his administrative role, Hanson may think he is ahead but will soon find a long to-do list waiting for him.
It is hard to fully understand the responsibilities of an athletic director until you directly work with one, Hanson said. There is a lot of learning on the job and figuring it out as you go.
Betz knows she must set athletic schedules for the 2021-2022 season a year in advance. Schedules may need adjustments depending on what happens with the pandemic. A large number of coaching positions need to be filled, including head and assistant coaches for volleyball, girls basketball and track.
Sarah Walker resigned from her multiple coaching positions and Mike Sauers resigned from his role as an assistant coach for volleyball and both basketball teams this year.
Betz said knowing the community and having previous relationships with students and parents after 18 years of teaching at ACHS will allow an easy transition into her position.
Betz said the teacher-led culture at ACHS will help with her dean of students role because teachers do a good job of handling daily student concerns such as tardies and absences. She will focus on larger student concerns, building relationships with the students throughout the school and maintaining high expectations.
The positions opened up at a good time for Betz, who just earned a masters in education leadership, gaining the certification needed to take on administrative roles at ACHS. Moving into leadership positions is a career path Betz thought about, considering principal or curriculum director at first, but the new roles provide an opportunity for her to start her career as an administrator.