Hayden hires new superintendent

Matt Stensland

Hayden’s new superintendent, Phil Kasper, is pictured during an awards ceremony with his wife, Shirley. Kasper has received numerous accolades during his career and in 2004 was honored as a distinguished principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
courtesy photo

— The Hayden School District’s new superintendent describes himself as someone who enjoys people, loves kids and is dedicated to education.

Phil Kasper, who has worked in education for more than 38 years, was the unanimous choice among the Hayden School Board members during a special meeting Wednesday morning.

“We’re excited,” School Board President Brian Hoza said.

He added the terms of Kasper’s two-year contract, including his salary, are still being finalized.

Hoza said Kasper was the top choice among the three candidates the school board interviewed, noting that Kasper is very knowledgeable of all aspects of running a school district. He has shown a strong collaborative approach with school administrators and staff, Hoza said, and he connects with students.

“He’s just a very authentic, genuine person,” Hoza said.

Kasper received the official job offer Wednesday morning.

“I’m excited today, as you can imagine,” he said.

Kasper is leaving the Consolidated School District in Shiprock, New Mexico, where he has worked for the past 21 years.

Kasper has served numerous roles in the district and is currently director of elementary education.

“I just wanted the experience to leave my own school district and become a superintendent,” Kasper said. “When you know it’s time for the next step, you kind of feel it.”

His current district has 6,500 students and 10 elementary schools. The district has about 1,000 employees and spans more than 100 miles. Students primarily are members of the Navajo American Indian tribe.

Before going into district administration, Kasper taught for 17 years at the middle- and elementary-school level. His career includes 15 years as an elementary school principal.

Kasper has received numerous accolades during his career, and in 2004, he was honored as a distinguished principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals

Kasper grew up on his grandfather’s homestead and attended high school in Blanding, Utah. He completed his undergraduate work at Southern Utah University and his graduate work at Western State Colorado University.

Both Kasper and his wife of 40 years, Shirley, grew up around agriculture. Shirley is a retired educator of 32 years.

“I don’t know what’s in our DNA more, education or ranching,” Kasper said.

The couple has two grown daughters who work in education.

Kasper said he is looking forward to continuing his life and work in a small, tight-knit community like Hayden with farming and ranching heritage.

“You just know folks in small towns,” Kasper said. “You have a different perspective on life, and I didn’t want to lose that.”

Kasper, who is replacing outgoing Superintendent Trudy Vader, will begin work July 1.

Hoza said the school board has already identified some of Kasper’s priorities.

“Our first focus will be on uniting the district and the community around a common vision and strategic plan,” Hoza said.

Hoza said a priority will be marketing the school district and informing the community and families about the strengths of the district.

“He’s someone that’s going to get to know the community very soon,” Hoza said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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