The Moffat County School Board plans to host public interviews for its three finalists for superintendent later this week.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard's interview, planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the administrative building at 775 Yampa Ave, will be first.
The other two candidates, Dr. Joseph Petrone, of Pinedale, Wyo., and Dennis Wilson, of Evanston, Wyo., will be interviewed Thursday and Friday at the same time and location.
Petrone's most recent education experience was as elementary principal and curriculum and professional development coordinator for Jakarta International School in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1995 to 2006.
Most recently, he worked as health, safety and research and development coordinator for High Sierra Energy-Anticline Disposal in Boulder, Wyo., from 2007 to October 2008.
Wilson works as the Uinta County School District superintendent of schools, a position he has had since 2004.
When other children pretended to be astronauts and firefighters, Christine Villard "played school."
She would line up her dolls and teach.
It was natural, Villard said. Her mother and grandmother were teachers, as was her grandmother's father before that.
Now 50 years old and eight months into her tenure as assistant superintendent of the Moffat County School District, Villard's passion has not faded.
"I always just had a natural inclination to want to work with children," she said. "If I had gone into another field, it would have been working with children, too."
Villard has spent roughly 27 years in education.
She spent 11 years as an elementary and special education teacher and earned her masters of education and a doctorate in school psychology. She now has worked for almost nine years as a Moffat County district administrator, serving as school psychologist and director of student services before her promotion to assistant superintendent.
Now, she is poised to take a further step.
Villard is one of three finalists approved by the Moffat County School Board for the district's superintendent position. Whoever is chosen will succeed Superintendent Pete Bergmann, who plans to retire before the 2009-10 school year.
The board plans to host public interviews for each candidate this week, starting with Villard at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the administrative building, 775 Yampa Ave.
Villard said she did not always see herself vying for head administrator of a school district.
"I thought I'd be a regular education teacher or a special education teacher for the rest of my career," Villard said about her early years in a classroom.
It wasn't until she moved back to the U.S. after spending three years in Santiago, Chile, that she thought about becoming an administrator.
She taught school there, trying to reach English- and Spanish-speaking students in the same classroom. The experience made her examine how she taught and how people learn, and caused her to take up a different path.
One that Villard said allows her to bring a personal philosophy to education.
"I learned so much about children and how they learn, how people grow," Villard said. "I think we all have common ways of communicating; we just have different ideas or understanding of about how to access our goals. Knowing there are many different perspectives has become a critical piece of what I've done as an administrator."
If chosen as superintendent, Villard said she would work with every group - students, teachers, families and the community as a whole - to foster success.
The district has instituted programs to bolster student success in the past two years, she said, such as tracking student progress through the year. Administrators know using year-end standardized tests is too late to gauge student performance.
"We're not finished there," Villard said. "We need to keep working to improve (student achievement), and we need to move into the next step, the primary portion of which is teachers."
Villard said she hopes to strengthen the district's professional learning communities, which allow teachers to work together on problems, mentor one another and participate in training exercises.
Her familiarity with the school district, where it's been and where it can go, is part of what Villard said makes her the best superintendent candidate.
"I know this district well," she said. "I know what we've been working on and believe in the program we've implemented."
The other part is her passion for Moffat County, Villard said, which drives her more than anything else.
For the longtime educator, the opportunity to lead a school district is another step in a life dedicated to teaching, a life that began innocently with a young girl "playing school" with her dolls.
"I love this community," she said. "I'm committed to this community. I want what is best for Moffat County. I live here, I may have grandchildren that go to these schools (someday) and it's important to me that we provide the best education, not only for my family but for every family."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com.