At the annual conference of the Wyoming Association of School Administrators last week in Jackson, Jay Curtis, superintendent of Park County School District 1, was named the state’s …
At the annual conference of the Wyoming Association of School Administrators last week in Jackson, Jay Curtis, superintendent of Park County School District 1, was named the state’s superintendent of the year.
Greg Borcher, who served as chairman of the board of trustees for the district last year, wrote in his letter of recommendation that Curtis has many strengths — foremost being his passion for the students and the expectation that all of them, from the highest-performing to the child with the most special needs, be treated fairly and respectfully.
“He [Curtis] has a passion for teaching and learning that you can feel, see and hear,” Borcher wrote, “whether it is at a local board meeting or testifying at meetings of the state legislature.”
Borcher credited Curtis with having innovative ideas that minimized the impact of COVID-19 on the school district and kept the schools open when they reconvened in August. He also noted how Curtis was instrumental in obtaining a SAMSHA grant to provide more mental health services for students in the district.
Kevin Mitchell of Powell, who formerly served as superintendent for Park District 1, is now the executive director of WASA. He outlined the process by which Curtis was selected.
Each of four regions in the state may name a nominee, and any school board can nominate its own superintendent. This year there were four nominees. The nominees then fill out an application, including a resume and letters of recommendation. The applications are then sent to sitting superintendents who were previously named as superintendent of the year. Those superintendents — there are five — grade the applications and rank them from one through four.
Mitchell then uses a computation to make the selection. The name of the winner is kept secret until the April conference.
Mitchell said he has known Curtis for about 13 years, since Curtis was the principal at Park County School District 16 in Meeteetse.
“Jay has the skill set to be a great educational leader,” Mitchell said. “He focuses on the students and staff and their well- being, and he is very involved on the state and national level.”
Borcher said Curtis’ qualifications extend beyond the classroom.
“Jay is a person of his word: If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it. He is a stand-up person who treats everybody equally and fairly,” Borcher said. “His attitude is we will take a bad situation and do the best we can with it and make it work.”
Because Wyoming is an affiliate of the American Association of School Administrators, the state winner goes on to vie for the national title. All 50 nominees are recognized at that organization’s national conference, usually held in February.
“This one is for 2022 in Nashville, [Tennessee],” Mitchell said. “Hopefully COVID will cooperate and we can be in person.”
The administrator selected as the national winner is awarded $10,000 to either the high school from which he or she graduated, or a high school in the district they serve.