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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Meet Dr. Nancy Wright – D 49’s new interim superintendent

Dr. Nancy Wright has come out of retirement for the second time to take the lead position at School District 49. Twice plucked from sunny and warm Florida, it appears that Wright cannot say no to Colorado. Perhaps it’s the mountains or perhaps it’s her history with Colorado schools.Wright, who has 38 years experience in education, began her career as a Colorado Springs School District 11 teacher, followed by years as a principal and later a superintendent.In 1998, Wright accepted the job as superintendent for Manitou Springs School District 14. Under her leadership, the district became one of the Pikes Peak region’s top CSAP performers. After five years of leading D 14, Wright retired in 2003 and moved to the sunshine state with her husband, Ken.Wright’s retirement didn’t last long. The Colorado Association of School Boards asked Wright to consider an interim superintendent position for Poudre Valley School District in Fort Collins, and Wright couldn’t say no. “I have always been and will always be an educator,” she said.From 2004 to 2005, she moved the district forward by instituting organizational systems and involving the community. “Poudre Valley was going through similar growing pains as Falcon,” Wright said.Not long after returning to Florida, CASB once again called on Wright to lead a school district that has had its share of turmoil – D 49. She interviewed with the board, and they made an offer. “I interviewed the board as much as they interviewed me,” Wright said. “I need to know I can make a contribution, restore stability and advance the district before I commit, and this opportunity was a great fit for me.”Taking the reins on Aug. 11, Wright has been busy visiting schools, meeting with staff, teachers and students, as well as community members to evaluate what the district is doing well and where changes need to be made. “There were no surprises in the district for me,” Wright said. “The issues in school districts tend to be similar. I’m excited to be here and want to provide optimum learning conditions for students and staff.”Wright’s primary goal is to “work myself out of a job. No organization should be person specific,” she said. She will spend her tenure in D 49 putting systems into place that will ensure the mission. One method Wright uses to gauge how well the district is doing is to go to the source – the students. Along with visiting schools, she has been riding buses to get her “kid fix,” she said. “I find that kids will really open up on the bus. They are a captive audience and I want their opinions.”An issue that receives a lot of attention in the district is CSAP scores, and it’s an important issue to Wright as well. “I do believe in and do support CSAP testing, however, it’s important to note that the data reflects one student’s performance on one day,” Wright said. Using CSAP scores in addition to other assessments can provide information on where a child needs help.Wright also would like to work with businesses to learn what skills they are seeking in entry level employees. She said she believes that if students can connect what they are learning to careers, whether it involves going to college, a tech school or heading straight to employment, it increases their motivation to do well.Revamping the district Web site has been another priority. “Employees as well as the public should know who is responsible for what within the district and have phone numbers and e-mail addresses to contact them,” Wright said.Communication ranks high on Wright’s list, and she said she wants the district to be transparent to all stakeholders. The community relations coordinator position is vacant since the departure of Joe Cole, and Wright plans to bring the position to the board in the near future.She also wants to discuss with the board short-term and long-term goals for the district. “The board is made up of good people that are investing and providing direction and stability for the district,” Wright said. “I look forward to meeting with each of them individually as well as in group setting.”Being back in the Pikes Peak region is like coming home for Wright. “I spent 30 years here and for both me and my husband, our hearts remain here,” Wright said. However, when Wright’s term ends, she will return to Florida to be near her family. Her goal is to make sure the next superintendent will be able to come in and, without missing a beat, continue to move the district forward.

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