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RIVERTON — Anthony Godfrey, associate superintendent of the Jordan School District, was named the district's 12th superintendent on Tuesday.
Jordan School Board President Bryce Dunford said the board searched "far and wide and we have found the right person worthy of your trust."
Godfrey, whose career in the Jordan School District dates back to the 1990s, said he went to a college job fair with hopes of being hired by the district. At that time, there were more teaching candidates than teaching positions, so the competition was intense.
One candidate didn't show up, giving Godfrey the opportunity for an interview, he said.
"I got the job," he recalled.
In thanking board members for their trust and confidence, Godfrey said, "Tonight I’m very grateful to you and whomever didn’t show up for his interview on time," referring to that first teaching job interview.
Godfrey has worked for the school district 26 years, starting as an English teacher, then an assistant principal, principal and a member of the administrative cabinet for the past 13 years.
He earned a bachelor's degree in English teaching and French from Weber State University. He also received a master's degree and doctorate from the University of Utah.
Becoming emotional, Godfrey said he sometimes cries when he is very happy "and I am very happy," he said.
The board's vote was unanimous.
"We want you to know we are united on this, all seven of us," Dunford said.
"Tonight, we proclaim we got this right."
Godfrey will succeed Superintendent Patrice Johnson, who is retiring after leading the district for eight years.
Godfrey was introduced to the school community in a packed board room at the district's Jordan Academy for Technology & Careers South Campus. The announcement was met with a standing ovation by the audience, who included district and building-level administrators, educators, classified employees and community members.
Board members praised Godfrey's skill at conflict resolution.
Board vice president Tracy Miller, who led the nationwide search, said one employee told her that Godfrey had the ability offer constructive criticism "and make you feel good about it."
Godfrey introduced his parents, who were both educators. His father was a college professor, and his educational attainment encouraged Godfrey to seek a doctorate degree as well.
Moving forward, Godfrey said he wants the school district "to make great use of technology."
"We want flexibility for families so they can have the type of education that's just right for their child. We want the type of opportunities that prepare students for an uncertain future, where they're trained in the types of skills that will work whatever the job market brings, whatever their family may need in the future, so they have lots of opportunities to discover what clicks for them, where that spark is, so that they know what they want to do next," he said.
Johnson was Jordan District's first woman leader, and the first superintendent hired after the split of Jordan District created the Canyons School District.
She is also the first Jordan superintendent hired from outside the suburban school district. Johnson relocated to Utah from Clark County School District in Nevada, where she was an associate superintendent.
Godrey assumes the helm of a rapidly growing school district, which is home to many young families and a burgeoning school-age population. The district is in the process of opening a new high school next fall in Herriman, along with four elementary schools. Enrollment increased about 13 percent during Johnson's helm.
Godfrey said he is feeling the weight of the responsibility, "but at the same time, I'm very excited. We have great employees. We have great families and great students and a lot of wonderful opportunities ahead."
The Jordan School District has 57 schools and 54,865 students, according to the district website. Established 114 years ago, Jordan is the fourth largest school district in Utah.