SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Granite Board of Education on Monday announced its choice for new superintendent as Richard Nye, the current Ogden School District superintendent.
Nye will step into the role in July as current Granite Superintendent Martin Bates retires.
"I appreciate the good things Granite represents as a leader in the state in many, many things. It's exciting to join this effort and be part of such a large community of people who are committed to education for kids," Nye told KSL.com soon after the announcement.
Nye has served as superintendent in Ogden since 2017. Before that, he worked as the deputy superintendent for student success for the Utah State Board of Education.
"Upon the announcement of (Bates') retirement, we as the Board of Education asked our students, staff and parents what leadership qualities they would like to see in the incoming superintendent. Dr. Nye best embodies those qualities, and we look forward to welcoming him to Granite School District," Granite School District Board President Karyn Winder said in a statement.
As the school board met with the Parent Teacher Association and the District Community Council, some of the attributes they searched for in a new leader included approachability, experience and the ability to engage the community, Winder said.
"They wanted somebody that they felt like they could go up and talk to, that would listen to them before making a judgment," Winder told KSL.com.
"Another thing that we heard loud and clear was we want someone who can come and improve a few things, but we also don't want someone to want to come in and want to change everything, because we've got good things going on. So let's find a balance between keeping the good things going with a little bit of improvement, and let's put the stuff that's maybe perhaps not going as well under the microscope and get a little more detailed of a plan there. So somebody who could ease into it a little bit and also have a smooth transition," she said.
Nye began his career in education as a science teacher in a rural school in Weber County. He later went to Arizona State University in Phoenix for his graduate studies, where he taught at a K-8 school and "gained a better understanding of some of the obstacles and impacts poverty has on students, and some of the challenges associated with that," he said.
Eventually, Nye returned to Utah to receive his doctorate degree at Utah State University and has remained since.
"When the opportunity came to look at Granite, appreciating the diversity that is in Granite and the excellence that Granite stands for, it was a welcomed next move that I didn't necessarily anticipate at the time, but as the weeks and months went by, certainly became something I wanted to passionately pursue," Nye said.
During his time in Ogden, he said he's proud of the focus the district placed on personalized learning for students.
"Top of mind, of course, is what this pandemic has meant and its effects on learning. And the thing I'm proud of in Ogden is the commitment and dedication of the employees to put first things first, the priorities, and the way we engaged in providing educational services through the pandemic," Nye said, explaining that administrators and teachers "had the student at the apex of every decision."
The district also launched an initiative that gave students throughout the city access to high-speed internet broadcast from each school.
Nye said he'll use his experience leading another district with a high poverty rate to identify issues each student might face in their education, including transportation barriers and food insecurity.
The district also needs to understand how large of an impact the pandemic had on student learning. That will help leaders leverage resources "to make sure we are applying what is needed, not less or, in some cases, more ... so we can, with meaningful intent, mitigate against whatever those disruptions might be, recognizing that our students and teachers have been working hard this year and they deserve the love and thanks of the community for their efforts," Nye said.
He said he feels "passionate" about the diversity in the district.
For students most at-risk academically, "we're going to be there for them," Nye promised, as well as those "at the highest end of the academic curriculum."
"We're going to challenge them and create opportunities for them to learn and grow," he said.
He expressed appreciation toward Bates for his service to the community, and said he hopes to work closely with him during the transition to understand what works well in the district and find opportunities for improvement.
Winder said school leaders hope Nye can help address the "learning loss" caused by COVID-19 and how to best use funding to help kids make up that loss.
"I think everyone's dealing with that, but specifically here at Granite, we have some kids that were struggling before COVID, nad so you compound that with COVID, and we've got a lot of work to do. So we're hopeful on that. We're also hopeful that we, we're a little behind the times on technology, so we've got some work to do there, so that's another thing that's very high on our priority list working with Dr. Nye on," Winder said.