FARMINGTON, UT — Students in the Davis School District return to class on Monday. They will meet new friends, new teachers and may even meet the district’s new superintendent and assistant superintendent. Both of whom are working to continue improving student welfare.
“It’s exciting to see them come in and they meet their classmates and their teachers and the excitement in their eyes,” Dr. Dan Linford told ABC4. Linford grew up in Davis County and has been part of the Davis School District for years. Now, he’s stepping into the role of superintendent.
This will be Linford’s first school year in the new position, and by his side he’s appointed Dr. Fidel Montero as an assistant superintendent.
“Public schools still have this energy of bringing together children and people that represent, truly, represent our communities and there’s something really special about that,” Dr. Montero stated.
Montero has 20 years of experience in education and has worked for several districts in the state. In his position at Davis, he will oversee the district’s Office of Equal Opportunity.
Last fall, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report outlining severe racial discrimination and harassment across many of the district’s schools. Under the guidance of the DOJ, the district began a five-year improvement plan. The Office of Equal Opportunity was created.
“What appealed to me about coming to Davis and sort of taking on this new responsibility, is the real emphasis on creating real opportunity for all children,” Dr. Montero told ABC4.
“We still have a lot of work to do in diversifying the academic status in terms of teachers,” Betty Sawyer said. Ms. Sawyer is the president of the Ogden branch of the NAACP. She routinely works with three districts, including Davis, to address the needs of students and staff of different backgrounds.
She told ABC4 she is encouraged by the recent work of the districts in the area and hopes to see the districts’ educators better reflect the student population. She added, “We have to intentionally grow our own.”
The district agrees. “The best way to ensure the students in those classes are reflected in the staff is to hire the students in those classes,” Dr. Linford stated. The district has a Teacher Academy that helps train soon-to-be teachers as they prepare to enter the workforce. Linford told ABC4 the district is also working to create scholarship opportunities that will help district students who hope to become educators go to college.
According to Dr. Montero, the district is also working to improve opportunities for “children across the economic spectrum, across the demographic spectrum, so that’s exciting to me.”
And of course, as students return to class this coming week, their safety and well-being are of the utmost importance. “It’s our job as a school leadership team, as teachers, to really break that down to the individual level, to understand their stories, to understand what’s working for them and what’s not,” Montero said.