Eagle County School District hires superintendent | VailDaily.com

Eagle County School District hires superintendent

Matt Terrell
Eagle, CO Colorado
NWS new superintendent KA 03-18-08

EAGLE ” Sandra Smyser, an experienced school leader and the interim superintendent in Steamboat Springs, was hired as the new superintendent for Eagle County School District.

The school board hired Smyser on Wednesday, and she’ll begin work July 1. Smyser will replace interim superintendent John Pacheco, who was hired after four-year superintendent John Brendza resigned in June.

The school board was first impressed with Smyser’s years of experience in education, President Scott Green said. She’s been a superintendent for nine years in different districts in California and Colorado and has been a principal, assistant superintendent and bilingual special-education teacher. She earned her doctorate in special education in 1995 from the University of California, Riverside.

“She’s an experienced superintendent, and she’s been successful in every place she’s been,” Pacheco said of Smyser.

Aside from being highly qualified, Smyser truly understands the challenges the school district is facing and had good ideas on how to tackle them, Green said.

For instance, one of the biggest problems in Eagle County is the achievement gap between English-speaking students and their Spanish-speaking peers ” an issue Smyser has lots of experience dealing with, Green said.

“She’s bilingual, and she’ll be able to communicate with the Hispanic community,” Green said. “At the same time, she’ll have no problem going to a black-tie event in Beaver Creek with the business community. She’ll be able to reach out to all parts of the community.”

The board also was looking for someone who could understand the Teacher Advancement Program and be an advocate for it but also work hard to improve it where needed. The program, which ties a teacher’s salary to how well he or she performs, has frustrated and confused teachers since it started six years ago.

Smyser won’t be coming in with the intention of changing everything, Green said.

Instead, she seems to be someone who will listen, learn how the district and its complicated pay system work, and show quiet, strong leadership, he said.

Smyser is also smart with technology, Green said, which will fit in well with the school district’s drive to modernize classrooms and make school relevant to the 21st century.

Pacheco, who’s held in high regard by teachers and administration, said he’s confident he’ll be leaving Eagle County School District in good hands.

“I see so much potential here,” Smyser said. “I’m looking forward to being here.”


School board President Scott Green and other board members said they were pleased with the amount of community involvement they had in hiring the superintendent.

The Colorado Association of School Boards, which conducted the superintendent search, hosted a series of focus groups with parents, teachers and school staff, hoping to find what the community wanted in a leader.

The answers from all the focus groups were used to create application questions, interview questions and screening criteria that would find the best fit for the valley.


Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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