Just when you thought the year couldn’t get any more interesting, the Kyrene School District makes an announcement: Superintendent Jan Vesely, who has led the district since 2016, said she will retire at the end of 2020.
In a message to the Kyrene community, Vesely explained why she was leaving:
“With new members joining the Kyrene Governing Board in January, it would be appropriate for a new superintendent to begin this important journey alongside the newly configured board,” Vesely wrote. The board is engaged in the planning stages of a search for Kyrene’s next superintendent, and I have no doubt this board will select someone exceptional for the role,” Vesely wrote.
President of the Kyrene Governing Board Mike Myrick, who is not seeking re-election, said he was sorry to see Vesely leave.
“We are incredibly sad to see Dr. Vesely go, but she has certainly earned her retirement. She has been an exceptional leader for Kyrene, particularly in the last seven months, as she guided Kyrene School District through unprecedented challenges,” Myrick said.
The COVID-19 pandemic cast an aura of uncertainty and fear for educators, students and parents alike. Kyrene schools, like many others, faced the challenge of distance learning, cancelation of in-person instruction for months and much more.
“It was important to me to see the safe return of our students to schools before confirming a big decision,” Vesely said of her impending retirement after “43 wonderful years in public education.
“It feels right to finish my long career in education here, where I am surrounded by the most talented staff, the most engaged community and the most promising students. It has been the highlight of my career to know you and to serve you,” Vesely said.
Myrick said he was thankful Vesely delayed her plans to retire in order to personally oversee the safe return of students to Kyrene schools. “That commitment to our students is the legacy she will leave in Kyrene.”
The Kyrene Governing Board issued a statement regarding Vesely’s upcoming retirement. The statement noted Vesely has shown “extraordinary leadership during her tenure as superintendent.
“Dr. Vesely will be remembered not only for her exemplary leadership, but for always putting the needs of the students of Kyrene first. When once asked why she was moving so quickly to implement change in the district her response was, ‘The urgency in my work is fueled by the reality that we have a very brief opportunity to have an impact on our students and to provide them with the support they need to achieve their full potential,’” the statement reads in part.
Bernadette Coggins, past president of the Kyrene Governing Board, called Vesely an “exceptional leader” who has been devoted to “data-driven decisions to close the achievement gap and supported Kyrene expanding its dyslexia awareness.”
In working alongside the board, Coggins said, Vesely called for a comprehensive performance audit of the district.
“This audit provided transparency and also a framework to develop a 5 year strategic plan and this guided the district’s priorities. Her primary focus has always been what’s best for students and employees,” Coggins told Wrangler News.
“She has led Kyrene through some of the most challenging times in public education and Kyrene is better place because of her leadership.”