Optimism is high in the Blue Valley School District, as the community prepares to embrace its new superintendent, Dr. Todd White.
At an open house introducing White last Thursday evening at the Hilltop Conference Center, about 500 people showed up to meet the school administrator and learn about his vision for the district.
White, who hails from across the state line, was hired as the district’s assistant superintendent in June. Before that, he was the superintendent for both the Harrisonville and North Kansas City School districts.
The Blue Valley Board of Education interviewed numerous candidates from across the nation last year, before realizing a good fit was right under its nose.
“Dr. White has the attributes of a great leader and he’s experienced in helping other districts achieve their goals,” said Board of Education President Mike Seitz. “He’s also extremely friendly, humble and engaging. He’s truly the right person to bring Blue Valley to the next level.”
Many members of the Blue Valley district agree.
“There is a lot of excitement bubbling up about what ideas he will bring to the district,” said Wendy Webb, coordinator of the Parents as Teachers program for Blue Valley. “I’m looking forward to seeing his impact. Even though the district is facing financial difficulties, if you have strong leadership, you can weather the storm.”
In addition to Blue Valley educators and staff members, several community leaders showed up to the open house to shake White’s hand and get to know him a little better.
After all, as the face of the Blue Valley School District, White is going to be an extremely important figure in area, Overland Park City Councilman John Skubal said.
Outside of overseeing the school district, a superintendent’s duties extend to attending civic and legislative functions.
“I definitely think they picked the right guy,” Skubal said. “The board knows what they’re doing, so I’m sure we’re all going to be happy. I’m looking forward to getting to know him.”
As for White, he’s hoping to make the Blue Valley community proud.
His first day on the job was Tuesday and he will spend the rest of the school year transitioning into his new position.
“When I came here, I had no notion that I would be a superintendent again,” White said. “But I fell in love with the people here and their passion for their schools. I saw an opportunity to help the district. I’m honored and privileged to lead Blue Valley.”
He acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges he will face as superintendent will be overcoming the state’s economy and seeing how it will affect funding for education.
He plans to be forward thinking and innovative in his approach to the district.
“Our work today not only benefits the seniors of 2016, but sets a trajectory for the students who will graduate in 2030,” said White, a grandfather of three. “That’s exciting.”
His positive words resonated with the crowd at the open house.
Many of them echoed the same sentiment: White could be the superintendent who takes the district from great to greater.
“We need a leader who is going to be thinking about the future,” said Stephen Heinauer, principal at Indian Valley Elementary. “It’s going to be an entirely different world out there when next year’s kindergarten class graduates high school. We need to do everything we can to help them be ready.”
Jennifer Bhargava: email@example.com