• McMullen
  • McNeely

Kiowa Schools Superintendent Scott Mader has given his resignation and will be leaving the district at the end of the school year. Mader joined the district in July of 2018, and is leaving with one year left on his contract.

“I’m going to retire,” said Mader at the Feb. 3 school board meeting. “I’ve done that before, but this time it’s for sure. I’ve got some things I want to do, like spend time with my family, and I’ve got some writing I want to do, and maybe some watercolors. There’s some things in life I want to do and I’ve finally gotten old enough, I think, to do it. I have the best wishes for the district.”

The Kiowa district (Elbert County School District C-2) began searching for a new superintendent in February, and narrowed the search to two candidates out of 20 submissions. Parents, faculty, staff and community members were asked to submit questions of the candidates as part of the interview process. The school board hopes to make a final decision by the end of April.

Here are questions and answers with the two superintendent candidates:

Dr. Silvia McNeely

What makes you the best candidate for superintendent?

Well, I possess the characteristics that Elbert County School District is looking for. For example, I am highly motivated, transparent and my agenda revolves around what is best for kids. I began my career in education in 1990 and gained a vast amount of experience from a classroom teacher, district curriculum director, PK-12 principal to a superintendent. In the duration of those years, I have become acquainted in working within rural school communities. I have learned to become innovative and flexible when confronted with challenges or obstacles that may impede district goals.

This is the best way I can describe myself: My words are mild, my writings are passionate, and my actions have substance. I have taken up the role of a servant leader for many years, and I have the ability to lead in order to attain goals. I have found that the key is building leadership among all stakeholders and collaboratively leading stakeholders toward district goals that have been “collectively” established.

What is the most important thing you hope to accomplish?

The most important thing I hope to accomplish is closely related to my top priority and that is building relationships and building leadership among all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community leaders). I have found that those two components are what it takes for a school community to experience success across the board, such as effective research-based curriculum and instruction, increased student learning, teacher sustainability, parent engagement, etc.

What do you believe should be the top priority?

Everything we do has to be about the student — we have to remember the “why” before focusing on the “how” and the “what.” When our priorities begin to shift from the “why” to the “how” and the “what” — we begin to major in the minors and minor in what really is important.

Robert McMullen

What makes you the best candidate for superintendent?

Several things. First of all my broad experience. I have 30 years’ experience in education at urban, rural, large and small schools. I’ve served in alternative, middle and high schools, and worked with elementary school teachers and principals. There’s a wide range of things I’ve done and experienced that I can bring to a district like Kiowa. I’ve done budgeting and am very familiar with the Colorado school law and finance act, and all that goes along with what superintendents need to be aware of.

I’ve lived in Elbert County for 17 years, and have been a leader in Elizabeth schools for 16 of those. I have strong ties to the community and understand family and values that Elbert County supports. I’ve been connected to Kiowa Schools off and on indirectly, and I know our community. I’ve been involved in 4-H and Scouting, fairs and rodeos. I have a broad knowledge of our community. Finally, I think I have a strong vision for school systems that will innovate and move school systems forward for continual improvement.

What is the most important thing you hope to accomplish?

I think wherever I’m at, in education the ultimate goal is always that every student will move through our system and graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to take the next steps to a happy productive adult live. Each student should reach their potential, and I think Kiowa Schools can and should become a district of distinction. A destination district where we’re drawing people into the community because of their high standards of what we can do for our kids and family.

What do you believe should be the top priority for a superintendent?

A superintendent wears many hats, especially in a system like Kiowa. One of them is that the superintendent needs to work in the trenches along with the staff. Primarily, a superintendent has three roles — hiring, budgeting and communication. You use those three priorities to achieve objectives for the district. Building a community that is directed toward the same mission and keeping students at the center of all decision-making. Budgeting is huge. The superintendent and board are the only ones who have the broad view of the budget and how it matches, and your budget is a true picture of your mission. I have never been in a system where communication cannot be improved. Building trust with the school system and teachers, staff and community, and that’s how we make a culture for constant improvement for our students and community.