After a three-month long process, the ongoing search to find a new person to lead USD 409 is winding down.
People of all ages in the Atchison area had opportunities this week to get acquainted with the top picks from a field of candidates to succeed Superintendent Susan Myers of Atchison Public Schools.
Myers will step down amid her retirement at the end of the current school year. District leaders accepted Meyers’ resignation at their November 2018 meeting.
Teachers, USD 409 retirees, city and community leaders and parents mostly comprised the groups who came to the 409-hosted special meet and greet with candidates Principal Bryon Hanson, Atchison High School; Assistant Superintendent Renee Scott, of USD 457 of Garden City; and Principal Phil Bressler, USD 250 of Pittsburg.
Hanson’s interview and reception on Thursday marked the third and last of the 409 hosted hospitality event at this point in the selection process.
Although Hanson is already a familiar face in the Atchison community, there were a few attendees who dropped by to introduce themselves.
Hanson said his attraction to apply for the district’s leader comes from a unique perspective. Hanson has chalked up seven years of Atchison Public Schools experience, and is currently in his fourth year in service as AHS principal. Hanson previously served as principal at Atchison Middle School.
The son of educators, Hanson said his father served as a high school principal. Hanson is currently working toward his doctorate and has developed an interest to serve as a superintendent.
This is the place where I would like to do it, Hanson said, and added that academically the schools are ready to take off and meet high levels.
“I see the good in Atchison,” Hanson said. “It is a great community.”
There is a lot of work going on to make things happen in Atchison that Hanson said he wants to be a part of it. When he relocated his family here several years ago they were all warmly received.
“I care about this town,” Hanson said. “I love these kids and I believe I can make an impact.”
Hanson continued, “I’ve never had the urge or desire to leave. It’s been my home.”
Prior to his years with USD 409, Hanson served for five years as a teacher in Kansas. For two years, Hanson served as an assistant principal at Galena High School where he additionally served two years as the principal. Hanson has served a total of 16 years in public education. Previous to forging his path in education, Hanson said he has a background in construction and restaurant management.
Scott was the first candidate to visit the district and patrons. She came to town Tuesday. More than 20 interested parties attended her reception.
Scott has a total of 26 years of experience in public education and is currently in her fourth year serving USD 457. Scott taught for 10 years in Nebraska and Texas.
Throughout her tenure at Garden City she has served for six years as a school counselor, six years as the high school associate principal in addition to the four years in her current role. Currently she is working to earn her doctorate and expects to finish that phase of her studies in about a year.
Scott shared that she was reared in Highland, and is a Benedictine College alumna from the Class of 1992. She studied as an English major, and minored in education. After college, she headed out into the world to start her career in education as an English teacher.
Coming from Garden City, a diverse community where there are adversities, Scott said she is attracted to the hard work ethics in the education systems.
“The more I observed today, I could see it as I visited the facilities,” she said.
She said it is very apparent everyone works hard in the district to provide the best possible education for the students.
Safety in the schools is one of the highest priorities, Scott told some attendees.
Bressler came to town for his special visit on Wednesday. About 20 braved the arctic chill to have an opportunity to meet with him during his reception.
Bressler told interested parties that he’s maintained a superintendent’s license for 14 years, and decided it was time to put it to use. He said he previously visited Atchison, but it was unrelated to school business.
Bressler also shared a personal tidbit that when he early on in his college years he first majored in journalism, but later switched to math. After college, Bressler served as a math teacher. The Paola High School newspaper “PHS JOURNALISM” story published May 24, 2017, reported Bressler resigned as principal on May 24, 2017, after six years to accept the high school principal position in Pittsburg.
The BoostertRedux, an online source, reported USD 250 School Board members in Pittsburg accepted his letter of resignation Jan. 14 to seek a superintendent’s job. Both the Paola-and Pittsburg-based news sources indicate Bressler is known to greet students he encounters in the hallways at both high schools with high-fives, knuckle or fist bumps.
Bressler described USD 409 as a well-managed school district, and that was one of the factors that enticed him to apply for the superintendent position opening. “The facilities are sound” Bressler said. “There are great things going on.”
Bressler’s sentiment of “every kid, every day” was reinforced earlier in the day as he toured each of the facilities, he said, and complimented Myers and staff members for their work.
Each of the candidate reception followed a full slate of activities that included a meeting with Myers, a tour of the district complete with stops at school buildings and facilities, and meetings with administrators.
USD 409 Vice President Carrie Sowers said 11 candidates applied for Myers’ position. Board members are hopeful to make their pick and announce an official hire at their upcoming meeting in February. The board members plan to have the new superintendent in place and on the job, Monday, July 1.