The Moffat County School Board concluded its special meeting Thursday with a fond farewell to a longtime district administrator.
School Board President Jo Ann Baxter approached outgoing assistant superintendent Christine Villard with a wrapped gift.
“In recognition for all your years of service, and appreciation for all that you’ve done for us, we got this small gift … so you’ll be certain to remember us,” Baxter said.
Inside was an ornate clock with an inscription from school board members.
Villard’s last day is June 30.
In mid-July, she will move to Fort Collins, where she’ll serve as a school psychologist for the Poudre School District. That job begins Aug. 10.
In the meantime, however, it’s business as usual, she said.
Sitting in her office Friday at the administrative building on Yampa Avenue, Villard said she’s hard at work.
“There’s still lots to do,” she said. “June is a very busy month for me because we’re writing grants, hiring for next year and doing end-of-year reports.”
The good news is Villard will leave the district in good shape.
“Brent Curtice, my replacement, has been up here a few days in May, and he is spending almost 10 days here in June transitioning with me,” she said. “He and I have had lots of time to sit down, talk and share ideas.”
Villard said Curtice has shown dedication to the post.
“I’m excited. I appreciate that he spent all that time on his own because he didn’t get paid for that,” she said. “He’s that committed to making things right for Moffat County.
“We’re very fortunate. I’m very fortunate.”
Villard said she and Curtice have been making decisions on next year’s curriculum.
“We’re mapping it out and it will be mostly done by the end of June, which means a really smooth transition for the district,” she said.
In addition, Villard said the district is nearing completion of a state-mandated goal.
“At the next board meeting, the board will formally adopt all the Colorado content standards,” she said. “Colorado had a very ambitious goal of doing all the core content areas at once … that had to be completed quickly, from 2008 to 2011.”
The deadline for adoption is December. The district will beat the deadline by nearly half a year.
“We’re ready, 100 percent,” she said.
Villard began her career in education in 1980 in Fort Collins as a special education teacher.
Two years later, in 1982, she began her involvement with the Moffat County School District as a first-grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary School.
Her husband, Lynn Villard, moved a lot for his career, so Villard’s employment with the district changed as the family moved away, then returned, then moved away again, then returned.
“With his career, we would move frequently. So, I would get a job wherever we’d land,” she said.
Those places included several districts in Arizona, a stint in Santiago, Chile, and several schools in Denver.
In 2000, Villard returned to Moffat County for the long haul.
She served as school psychologist until 2004, director of student services until 2008, then assistant superintendent.
When she left her position as school psychologist, Villard said she knew she’d return to it someday.
“Four years is not very long to learn and explore,” she said of her time as school psychologist. “I like school psychology because you get to work with parents and children, not just from the academic achievement side, but also social, emotional, behavioral and family support systems.”
Villard said school psychology is different from clinical psychology. The latter emphasizes personal therapy, she said.
School psychology is more about finding actionable solutions for students and their teachers.
“We work more with the (learning) environment,” she said. “So, we try to create a successful situation for teachers and students and help the teacher find ways to deal effectively with that student.”
Looking back on her years in the school district, Villard said one of her favorite accomplishments is the creation of the Alternative School, which is now located within the administrative building. The Alternative School began taking shape in 2004.
“One of the things I did as director of student services was write the grant and work with other administrators to get the Alternative School started,” she said. “I think it’s been one of the most successful things we’ve done in the district.”
Villard said the school district received a start-up grant of $500,000 to help at-risk students earn their diplomas.
Over the years, the program has helped more than 200 students finish school who might otherwise have given up, she said.
“One of the most exciting things about working with at-risk populations in general is when you see them out in the community, and they’ve found their wings and are doing so well and having children of their own,” she said. “Things work out.”
When she moves to Fort Collins, Villard said she’ll lose the opportunity to watch other students grow into adulthood.
But, not completely.
“We still have a cabin in the mountains, and my husband is part of the family ranch, so we’ll always be coming back to play in Moffat County,” she said.
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.