Susan Myers | 2017

Susan Myers has received numerous accolades for her work as USD 409 superintendent. The board of education faces a complex task in replacing her ahead of her planned June 30, 2019, retirement.

The plan to find a new leader for Atchison Public Schools is advancing to a special board meeting tentatively set for the third full week in January to formally start the interview process.

USD 409 Board of Education members met Monday night with Brian Jordan, representing the Kansas Association of School Boards. Jordan provides leadership services on behalf of the KASB to conduct a contracted search to field potential candidates to lead the district.

Superintendent Susan Myers is stepping down from the lead spot at the end of the current schoolyear.

Board members expect to meet again with Jordan for a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in the community room at the BOE office.

After board members convene they expect to recess and go behind doors for an executive session to look at the submitted resumes in effort to screen applicants for the superintendent position. After the board members decide what candidates to interview then they will be ready for the next step.

Jordan recommended board members make plans to interview one candidate a night, and that they make arrangements for someone to host the candidate during the daytime tour of the district facilities and community highlights. He also recommended the interviews take place in executive session. The initial suggested timeline to actually conduct interviews about the end of January 2019.

Prior to Monday’s special Board meeting in evening hours, during the day Jordan had met with six different groups from within a cross section of the USD 409 community to gain feedback of desired characteristics in effort to compose the potential profile of a new leader.

School site council members, Atchison High School students, various community leaders, school staff members and the general public comprised the groups that Jordan gained insight from as well as input from the 174 survey results from the district’s website. Jordan shared the outcomes with board members before they listed their characteristic want list.

A summarized personal profile from the community indicates the public wants a strong superintendent who will do what is right in a transparent manner with a kid friendly personality.

Some most wanted superintendent leadership qualities include an ability to be proactive, forward thinking, understand the district’s diversity and be a forward thinker. Jordan presented the community’s feedback concerning the critical needs for the superintendent to ensure is educational programming for all students and a safe environment.

Integrity, approachability and trustworthiness are qualities that often overlapped in the community responses, Jordan said. The responding community members were also in agreement about what they value as points of pride in Atchison Public Schools.

The list includes: a culture of professional learning for staff members, mentoring, the visual, musical and dramatic fine arts programs in the schools, the AHS media group classes, robotics and the science, technology, engineering and math-based course-curriculum.

Board members mostly agreed with the community wants with a few additions to the list like fiscal responsibility to wisely spend district funds and experience.

President Herb Gwaltney said the superintendent needs to be committed to excellence of education its value, an abilities to work with employees.

Board Member Diane Liebsch said the superintendent will need to be able to address discipline in the classrooms whether or not it is real or perceived as well as addressing any mental health issues.

Jordan presented the board members with binder notebooks and encouraged them to study information compiled from the characteristics because that is what they will craft their interview questions from.

After 12 years of service to 409, Myers announced her intent to retire Oct. 31, effective Sunday, June 30, 2019. Board members formally accepted Myers resignation at their Nov. 12 meeting and contracted KASB consultants to aid in the search for a new superintendent.

Myers herself did not attend the special meeting.

Mary Meyers can be reached at

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