The first cohort of the Rural Superintendent Academy(RSA) includes superintendents and principals from an array of outlying school districts in Colorado. This group of educators will engage in focused convenings and field visits to establish a cohesive, relationship-based, professional network through which key leadership competencies are coached, experienced, and mastered.
Haxtun RE-2J School District
Marsha Cody is entering her second year as a rural system leader with experience as a teacher and central office leader. She has strong history of working with “incredible risk-takers who have advanced public education toward better results.”
Cañon City Schools
Cañon City, Colorado
Adam Hartman has experience as a para-educator, a special education instructor, a gifted and talented teacher and coordinator, a director of instruction, and assistant superintendent of schools. He hopes to gain the confidence and competence that will eventually lead to a position as rural superintendent.
Dr. Brian Hill
Assistant Superintendent of Schools
Mesa County Valley School District 51
Grand Junction, Colorado
Brian Hill is committed to rural school systems. While District 51 is not a small district, he recognizes its rural nature in a remote location on the Western Slope of Colorado. Brian’s background includes a wealth of experience as a former educator in the Austin Independent School District in Texas, where he served in teaching, building leader, and district administrator roles.
Sterling High School
Cindy Lystad has a wide range of experience working in rural school settings, as a classroom teacher, a special education instructor and case manager, a gifted and talented teacher and coordinator, a building administrator, and even as a board of education director. While doing the work of the Academy, Cindy will also be working towards completion of an EdD in Education Policy and Leadership program at the University of Northern Colorado.
Florence JR/SR High School
Dan Melendrez is in his third year as a rural school building leader, and his ninth year as an administrator. In addition to serving as an assistant and building level principal, his background also includes teaching overseas and coaching at the Division One level. Dan’s work within the Homegrown Talent Initiative inspired him to apply to the Academy.
Centennial School District R-1
San Luis, Colorado
Toby Melster is in his fourth year as Superintendent at Centennial Schools. He has vast professional experience both inside and outside the education community, having served in banking, consulting, and the field of mental health. Toby has also taught English, journalism, and special education at the high school level, and has worked in high school and district administrative positions in Colorado and in Kansas.
Alamosa School District
Luis Murillo is in his eighth year as a rural school leader. He grew up in a migrant farmworker household in large cities in Mexico and California, and his heart is now in Colorado. Luis has served for 13 years as a rural educator, including stints as a school counselor and principal, and recently completed a prestigious national superintendent academy.
Ellicott School District 22
Chris Smith graduated from a rural school and has now worked in education for 20-plus years, including as a teacher and the principal of Ellicott Middle School, prior to taking the role of superintendent in Ellicott four years ago. Chris is committed to bringing high quality educators to his school and community. He believes that rural students are deserving of the same opportunities and access to higher education and career paths that urban students have.
Moffat Consolidated School District #2
Sarah White is in her second year as a rural system leader, with a broad background that includes experience as a classroom teacher, a building principal, a Colorado Department of Education regional literacy specialist, and a national curriculum representative.
Center Consolidated School District
Carrie Zimmerman is a proud Northern Arizona University graduate with vast experience as a special educator, classroom teacher, university-level instructor, building principal, district-level administrator, and superintendent of schools. Carrie has a wealth of experience in how to drive improvement in student achievement and a no-nonsense approach to simplifying school improvement efforts.