Craig Joseph Petrone has spent years in Indonesia. He has traveled Europe and looked at jobs in Africa. He recently returned from a vacation in Peru and Argentina.
But on July 1, he began work as superintendent of the Moffat County School District.
"I have always wanted to be in this beautiful country," he said. "We traveled around and raised our children abroad so that they could have a worldly understanding, and someday, they could choose whether they wanted to stay in America or live somewhere else. But for us, it was just time to move home."
With family spread across Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, Petrone said he is thrilled to be living near his children.
Before moving to Craig, Petrone worked as an assistant superintendent in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Before that, he spent 12 years in Jakarta, Indonesia as an administrator at an American international school. He said he will use his worldly knowledge as a basis for furthering the district's vision.
On a two-day retreat last month with school district administrators, Petrone said the group honed in on aspects of the school's mission and vision.
The current vision of the district is to encourage and expect school achievement while giving students a choice in the path they take when they leave, whether it is in the work force, higher education or military.
Petrone said he wants students to be prepared for the world, and it starts with teachers.
"It's the faculty that can really create that worldly atmosphere," Petrone said. "I'm just so jazzed about working with this quality faculty. They're so well-traveled, and their wealth of experience relates to the things we all enjoy, which are outdoor activities. We have teachers who are out kayaking on the weekends and exploring the great big world right here in our country, and we can all relate to that."
In his first week as superintendent, Petrone has been making a conscious effort to reach out and connect with district staff members and people in the community. He said he is encouraged by how welcoming everyone has been.
"The connection to the community is extraordinarily important," he said. "You need to go out and say hello to people."
Aside from meet-and-greets, Petrone also has an important order of business to attend to: A smooth school opening.
In the short term, Petrone said he will make sure parents understand the new changes that come with reconfiguration including new pick-up and drop-off spots and the addition of preschoolers to the elementary schools.
He also has his first board meeting July 23 as superintendent, although he has sat in on the past three meetings to orient himself to the functioning of the board.
But, as he settles into his life in Craig, he is focused, in the long term, on student learning and achievement.
"It's about children coming to school happy and excited to see their friends and looking forward to learning," he said. "It should be a nice synergistic amalgam of love and caring."