Wendy Wyman has been the superintendent of Lake County School District for the last eight years, but is preparing to step down this summer. As of July, Wyman will be superseded by Bethany Massey, who was selected to fill the role this spring. As Wyman enters the last month of her time as superintendent, the Herald asked the superintendent about her time in the position, reflections on the district during her tenure and what will come next for her.
You took the job in 2012. What were you expecting from the role when you accepted the position?
When I became superintendent for Lake County School District I had been a principal in the district for one year at West Park Elementary. After working with the great staff and community at West Park, I was looking forward to collaborating with teachers, staff and families across the school district.
Did it live up to your expectations?
The experience of being a superintendent has far exceeded my expectations. I feel so fortunate to have been the superintendent in Lake County over the past eight years. It has definitely been a high point in my career. This community has been so supportive of the schools in my time here. They supported our implementation of expeditionary style learning and have passed two bonds to ensure that our students have safe, healthy and modern buildings. Leadville is an incredible community that comes together and makes amazing progress happen every day.
What were some of the challenges you faced in your eight years as superintendent?
I prefer to see challenges as opportunities for new ways of operating. I have found that by collaborating with our staff and community we have been able to face challenges together and come up with shared solutions. Just a few examples are we: worked with the community to adopt new ways of learning for our students; ensured students had engaging learning experiences that included the arts, afterschool and extracurricular activities; opened a school based health center; opened new play yards at Lake County Intermediate School and West Park Elementary School; partnered with a variety of organizations across the county; and addressed some of our aging facilities.
When we do face difficult situations, we come together as a LCSD family to support one another. We are currently facing the unprecedented challenge of teaching and supporting our students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, I have been incredibly impressed by the creative and caring ways that our faculty and staff have shown up to support our students. Our school leaders and teachers very quickly pivoted to distance learning. Other members of our staff rapidly ensured meal delivery for our students on the weekdays. With the help of volunteers from other organizations, we are delivering approximately 700 meal sacks across the county daily. These include a breakfast, lunch and dinner for youth in our county. We are now planning for how we will implement learning next year. I am awestruck by the way that LCSD staff show up, roll up their sleeves and address whatever challenge is facing us.
What do you wish someone had told you before becoming superintendent?
Rely on those around you. We have remarkable faculty, staff, families and community in Lake County. We do our best work when we work together and draw on the multiple perspectives and assets that we have across our community. In the schools we see our diversity as a strength; by building on our varied skills and experiences we come up with the strongest solutions.
What advice would you give to Bethany Massey, the incoming superintendent?
Take time to celebrate as you continue your work. There are incredible occurrences across our schools every day. Your role will keep you busy. Celebrating the great work within the district will keep you focused on the right work.
Your next position is as the executive director of the Mountain Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). What will you do in that role, and what does it mean for your involvement in local education?
The Mountain BOCES provides support for special education services and professional learning to four school districts in the area: Lake County, Salida, Buena Vista and Fairplay. We recently updated our structure to include a full-time special education director. As I transition to my new role my first goal is to ensure that our new structure is implemented effectively. I also want to guarantee that the great work the BOCES is already doing providing professional learning and supporting teacher and principal licensure continues. In the future, I look forward to finding innovative ways we can collaborate together to support educators and students across our area. Fortunately, I will be able to continue to work with Bethany and LCSD on a regular basis in addition to working with the other districts.