Southern Utah News Articles
One hundred days for Fredonia School Superintendent Gilmore
Mr. Tod Gilmore, the new Fredonia-Moccasin Unified School District (FMUSD) Superintendent, was born in Oakland, California to young parents. His parents moved to Arizona to attend the University of Arizona, and Gilmore has lived in Arizona ever since.
Gilmore most recently moved from Flagstaff to work in Fredonia. His wife is a professor at NAU – she signed her contract before Gilmore was hired and so they travel between Flagstaff and Fredonia. Together they have two children, both currently attending college out of state.
Gilmore worked in the private sector for many years – including jobs in carpentry and a variety of other professions. But then as his children grew closer to entering high school, he decided to make a change.
“I was working too hard, and the kids were growing up, so I [decided] I really would like to contribute to humanity, but I’d also like to do it in a way that would maximize my ability to spend time with my kids,” said Gilmore. “Since they were in education, I sort of got into that. My mom was also an educator, so there was a genetic part to it too. It really was a quality of life decision.”
Gilmore currently has a one-year contract with FMUSD, but he says if the board decides to offer him a long-term contract, he and his wife would love to buy a house and move to the area permanently.
Now that Gilmore has been a key member of FMUSD for 100 days, he said, “I think [Fredonia] is charming. I think what resonated with me initially was the Homecoming parade. Seeing all the folks in town along the boulevard – this was the first sign to me that these people are invested in their schools, in their community. As I’ve been here these first hundred days – the community really likes this school, I think, and I think they will also be the solution to turning this school into the great school it can be.”
Gilmore sees his initial tenure here as three 100-day periods. The first 100 days he has spent “getting to know the Fredonia way.”
Essentially observing and learning how things are done, and why. He asks, “Do we do things the way we’ve always done because it’s the best and proven way to do something? Or is it an inertia issue that we need to look at as a community?”
Gilmore believes graduates of FHS should know they have no limits, should know what their dreams are, and be equipped to actualize those dreams. He feels this is a virtue of being a smaller high school, “we have an incredible ability to really know our students, and the smaller class sizes can be very powerful if we take advantage of it.”
The next 100 days Gilmore would like to spend working with staff and school board members to answer the above questions, determine what a great school is, what needs to be done to bring FMUSD up to that level, and how to do so while incorporating “the Fredonia way” in a positive manner.
“One of the untapped resources is the wisdom in this community,” says Gilmore. “A lot of people think we’re this rural island, but we have retired educators, we have retired geologists. If we can figure out how to align secondary students interests with those types of mentors, we can effectively start getting closer to their dreams in a cost-efficient manner. How do we build the bridge to make this happen?
We need to be open-minded in our thinking. This is how we can provide better customer service to our students.”
Another way to provide better customer service, i.e. improve learning, is by fostering leadership among the students.
Gilmore says, “Leadership is an art. There are natural leaders and learned leaders. There are both present on the Fredonia campus. Where better to fail than in school? Where better to try something new than in school? School should be a sanctuary, a safe place, where you can see leadership role-modeled and then try it yourself, as well as learn how to constructively critique and be critiqued.”
Gilmore credits the teachers, aides, and other staff of FMUSD with helping the school continue to run smoothly despite recent changes and is grateful for their insight and input.
Welcome Mr. Gilmore, we look forward to our next 100 days (and more thereafter) with you.