Smyser settling in |

Smyser settling in

New superintendent: 'First week a flurry' of meetings

Mike McCollum

Steamboat Springs School District's new Interim Superintendent, Dr. Sandra Smyser, chats with a reporter during a welcoming reception at the high school Friday afternoon.

Steamboat Springs’ recently hired interim superintendent endured a gauntlet of teacher, principal, school board, parent and committee meetings during her first week on the job.

“The biggest thing was to just listen and ask lots of questions,” said Sandra Smyser, who took over Monday as interim superintendent. “I wanted to know where people are coming from and what are the hot-button topics in the district. I also wanted to see if two different people are telling me two different things on the same topic. I’m too new to have real strong opinions yet, and I’m trying to get both sides of some stories.”

After a long week of remembering new names and faces, Smyser received a break Friday night as fewer than 15 parents and district staff came to the high school to meet her.

“I’m a little disappointed in the turnout, but there is a lot going on tonight, and maybe Friday wasn’t the best time to do it,” said School Board President Denise Connelly, who noted district teachers had a workshop Friday afternoon, while Parent Information Committees also were meeting.

Despite the low turnout, Smyser said she appreciated the welcoming party, which included cake and refreshments. The superintendent said opportunities to meet parents and staff will happen throughout the school year through projects and time spent in the schools.

“I’ve already been to my first Education Fund Board meeting and see the exciting things that are going on there,” she said. “I guess I’ve just done the introductory meetings, but I’m not yet working with people yet – that’s when you really get to know them.”

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Smyser used expanding the district’s English Language Learners program as an example of how working relationships will build trust between herself and district staff.

“I have yet to delve into that, and while this is a multi-year, long-range project, I will get to know the teachers very closely as we move through this process,” she said.

As busy as her first week was, Smyser said she is looking forward to relaxing a little during next week’s homecoming events.

“It’s just so much fun to come at a time where school spirit is celebrated,” she said. “It will give me a chance to meet some of the students, which is a group I unfortunately missed out on this first week.”