After six hours of interviewing and evaluating four candidates, the Churchill County School District Board of Trustees offered the Superintendent contract to Summer Stephens of Weston County School District of Upton, Wyo.
Under an unanimous vote — along with the help of input from public comment — trustees chose Stephens for her passion for community and military base involvement, and connection with staff and students on site.
“I’m impressed with all four candidates,” said Board Vice President Kathryn Whitaker. “But my decision comes down to experience, innovation, and a desire to be part of our team and the community.”
Churchill County Director of Special Services Derild Parsons was the runner-up candidate based on majority of board votes and public comment.
“The board has a difficult job and I trust their decision,” Parsons said. “I like what I’m doing and my heart is with this town and the district. I’m looking forward to working with the new superintendent.”
CCSD faculty toured the district with each candidate to present their evaluations to the board Thursday night. Before the public final interview process, a meet and greet to chat with candidates was open to community members for an hour.
Among Parsons and Stephens were candidates Marion Smith, Jr. of Renton, Wash., and Risha VanderWey of Flagstaff, Ariz.
During interviews and public discussions, Stephens emphasized her passion in personalized learning and continuing technology-based learning in classrooms.
She also is an advocate for active learning such as agriculture, art, and athletics.
“I believe it’s important to hire the best instructors, even though they aren’t always the cheapest,” she said.
She also expressed her desire to establish connections with the community, such as the chamber, city council, county commission, and economic development.
“We need to share the great stories we’re doing,” Stephens said. “It’s critical to have open conversations and keep the district going in the same direction together.”
During candidate evaluations, Stephens’ references expressed excitement for her new chapter in Fallon, but also will be sorely missed.
“I have positive, professional relationships with people,” Stephens said. “I currently work with a fantastic team because we built honesty. We have different jobs to do but we’re still people, we all have the same worth.”
Although it was a close tie in decision making, board members and the community expressed appreciation for Parsons’ current role.
“I do not have a doubt in my mind he can do it,” said Board President Clay Hendrix. “But if he’s in superintendent chair, who’s going to fill special services?”
“Students are the most important part,” Stephens said. “The key is working together with the community and Mr. Parsons is a key part of that.”
CCSD will be Stephens’ first large school district to serve in superintendency, if she accepts the position. For the past six years, Stephens has been the Superintendent and Curriculum Director for Weston County School District No. 7 in Upton, with an enrollment of 265 students.
During her career, Stephens also was the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment at Beatrice Public Schools in Beatrice, Neb., for six years, as well as a high school teacher in the state.
Her three children also will attend local schools when her family moves to Fallon.
A contract negotiation between trustees and selected superintendent is scheduled for May 9.