Summit School District superintendent finalists emphasize equity, communication in board interviews |

Summit School District superintendent finalists emphasize equity, communication in board interviews

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the length of time that Bethany Massey worked at the Summit School District.

The Summit School District is one step closer to having a new superintendent after nearly 10 total hours of interviews on Thursday, March 10, and Friday, March 11.

The district held two interview sessions for the three superintendent finalists — Bethany Massey, Sheldon Rosenkrance and Anthony Byrd — on Thursday and Friday. The Summit School District Board of Education will vote for the new superintendent at a meeting on Tuesday, March 15.

On Friday, the board asked each finalist 20 questions with added follow-ups in interviews that lasted an hour and a half for each candidate.

Bethany Massey, a finalist for the position of superintendent at Summit School District, speaks during her interview with the school board on Friday, March 11, at the professional development building in Frisco.
Courtesy photo

Bethany Massey

Massey, who currently works as the superintendent at Lake County School District in Leadville, is the only candidate with a professional connection to Summit County.

From 2010 to 2018, she worked as the district’s assessment and technology manager. She said that experience will help her excel in the role.

“I did a lot of initial growth in my profession here in the district,” she said. “As a result of that, I’ve developed strong personal and professional relationships in this community that I really value.”

When asked about her leadership style, Massey said it’s all about relationships. She pointed to past experiences in which she met with the community to get a full understanding of student needs.

Massey said she would continue that focus on relationships with her work as superintendent, while also putting herself out there as an accessible and approachable leader of the district.

“If I don’t come across as approachable to individuals, then you don’t have a chance to be open and honest,” she said.

Massey said she’d also focus her efforts on improving literacy, special education and English language learners support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheldon Rosenkrance, a finalist for superintendent at Summit School District, speaks during his interview with school board members at the professional development building in Frisco on Friday, March 11, 2022.
Courtesy photo

Sheldon Rosenkrance

If hired, Rosenkrance would be coming to Summit from the Estes Park School District, where he has spent over seven years as superintendent.

In his interview, Rosenkrance spoke to the current “recalibration” that his school district is going through two years after the beginning of the pandemic. If hired, he would focus his efforts on a similar recalibration in Summit, identifying where the district is lacking in academics, support and equity.

“We’ve got to look back and say, ‘OK, what’s important to us? What areas did we kind of miss out on?’ and redo that,” he said.

Rosenkrance said his experience working as superintendent in Estes Park will be helpful when recruiting and retaining a high quality staff. As in Summit, Estes Park is often a difficult place for people to live with expensive housing and limited child care.

With those challenges in mind, emphasized the importance of making making sure that staff feel supported and valued in their work.

“We’re not just going to work as a number,” he said. “We’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Anthony Byrd, a finalist for superintendent at Summit School District, speaks during his interview with the school board on Friday, March 11, 2022, at the professional development building in Frisco.
Courtesy photo

Anthony Byrd

Byrd is the only out-of-state finalist among the group. He currently works as the executive director of Teach for America Washington, a nonprofit that places high-quality teachers in underserved areas.

Byrd emphasized his experience working with Spanish-speaking communities as a bilingual teacher early in his career as a quality that will help him succeed as superintendent.

“It is very challenging to go deep around opportunity gaps and pathways and the things you care about without being deeply connected with the communities that are historically the most marginalized,” he said. “To get to that point, speaking the language is a really important thing.”

Byrd promised to put a strong focus on equity as superintendent. He said the murder of George Floyd in 2020 was an eye-opening experience for him, in which he had to come to terms with how his experience as a white person differs from that of people of color. As superintendent, he hopes to foster conversations about equity while listening to the community and their needs.

He also hopes to help the district build its early childhood education opportunities, especially as the county struggles to meet child care needs.

“The single best investment, I believe personally, is birth to 5 so students can start school on time and ready to go,” he said.

Stakeholder input

On Thursday, around 49 community stakeholders, including teachers, staff, parents and community members, asked the candidates the same set of 15 questions and scored each candidate from 1 to 5 in five areas: leadership, communication, cultural competency, visibility and experience.

The questions posed by stakeholders ranged from mental health to how each candidate would help transition the school out of the pandemic and into regular, in-person learning. Stakeholders also placed emphasis on how each candidate would help improve resources for bilingual students.

Walt Cooper, a representative of the district’s outside hiring consultant firm McPherson & Jacobson, read the results of the stakeholder interviews during the Friday meeting. Cooper said none of the three candidates received a 1 and there were very few 2s in the five categories, indicating that all of the finalists met the basic criteria for the job.

After compiling the stakeholder’s scores across all five categories, Cooper said Byrd had the highest ranking with an overall score of 4.4. Rosenkrance was second highest with a score of 4.0 and Massey came in third with a score of 3.7.

At Friday’s meeting, board President Kate Hudnut encouraged members of the public who weren’t able to attend the stakeholder interviews to submit feedback on the three finalists to, which is an email address that is sent to all board members.

The board will discuss their thoughts on the three finalists and vote at a meeting at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, at the professional development building at 150 School Road in Frisco. The meeting will also be streamed via Zoom.

Devin Hinskon contributed to this report.

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