SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Thursday was the first day for the new Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Timothy Gadson III. We first introduced you to the superintendent last February.
Gadson is taking over at a time the district faces a lot of adversity.
“I’m truly excited to be here,” the superintendent tells ABC4’s Jason Nguyen.
Dr. Gadson is taking over for Interim Superintendent Larry Madden. Madden retired from the district after leading the district through pandemic procedures.
“He is amazing, and he is on speed dial, he has agreed to help me with, you know, my transition into this role, and he’s done that before I started, now that I’m official he says all I have to do is pick up the phone and call,” says Dr. Gadson.
The doctor’s philosophy is about meeting students and families where they are. Much of that deals with community needs, beginning with giving families a choice to send their kids to school.
“Even without the delta variant, there are some families who don’t feel comfortable coming back yet,” he says.
The district is bringing online a virtual elementary academy for some of those families, adding, “That program has been developed that will provide the online instruction for our students in elementary school.”
For those 12 and up, the district got great feedback on its vaccine programs and looks to continue them at high schools and possibly middle schools.
To know who is leading students, Dr. Gadson spent most of his first-day meeting principles.
“Of course we talked about some of the proficiency data, how we are going to make sure our students are ready for school for the entire year,” he says. ” I’m going to trust the skill and experience of these teachers to do what they have always done.”
Superintendent Gadson says he’s doing his homework. He sees and hears about the teachers who come in on their own time to work with students, and helping get up to speed. The superintendent wants to expand offerings within the schools, including mental health services.
“The mental health support is helping students with a quality learning experience because we know if they are not mentally healthy and they are worried about the trauma they are experiencing at home, they can’t attend in a classroom. If they are hungry, they can’t attend in a classroom,” says Dr. Gadson. “So we have our food pantries we provide clothing for children in need. Those are the basic needs that we are trying to make sure we take care of so that students can attend in the classroom.”
Getting to class will be different this school year. Some students will get to ride on eco-friendly busses.
“I am excited that we have four electric buses in our district. We are the only district in Utah to have those electric buses, and we have four more coming in the fall,” he tells us.
Though there may be ups and downs, Dr. Gadson wants parents to know one thing, “My message to our parents is their voice matters and we want to hear from them.”