Scottsdale Unified School District is getting a new superintendent. Michigan-native Dr. Scott Menzel is taking over the reins from Dr. John Kriekard, who is retiring at the end of the school year after more than 30 years with the district.
Menzel is currently the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, MI. His tentative start date with SUSD is July 1.
Menzel’s interest in applying for the superintendent position was based, in part, on the district’s excellent reputation.
“The district has a history of providing exceptional education and has ranked at or near the top of Arizona schools on standardized assessment measures for a long time,” Menzel said. “The level of community support for the district is phenomenal, as evidenced by the overwhelming support for the maintenance and operative override vote last November. As a superintendent, having a community that values education with parents who are deeply committed makes a significant difference.”
Menzel was also interested in the position because he wanted to be closer to his family. His brother lives in Phoenix, and one of his daughters lives in California. His other daughter plans to move to Arizona when she finishes college at Michigan State. He and his wife also wanted to move somewhere where the winters are a little more tolerable.
Menzel attended Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA and received a degree in religion. He also attended The American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a master’s in philosophy and social policy. He also has a Specialist of Arts and Ph.D. from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership.
Menzel has been working in education for almost 30 years. He started working at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., on school-to-work issues. He then moved back to Michigan to provide support to three counties implementing school-to-work transition efforts before being named the executive director for the South Central Michigan Workforce Development Board.
For the past 18 years, he has served as superintendent: five years at Whitmore Lake (a small district north of Ann Arbor), four years at the Livingston Educational Service Agency, and nine years at Washtenaw Intermediate School District. He also served as the superintendent of the Ypsilanti Community Schools while also serving as WISD superintendent.
“I first realized I wanted to be a superintendent when I was overseeing workforce development programs,” Menzel said. “We worked a lot with K-12 school districts, and I was impressed with superintendents who did their job well and disappointed by the number of people that were in the job which seemed to struggle.”
Menzel also has teaching experience in adult education and has taught at community colleges and at the university level.
“For anyone who has concerns about a superintendent who hasn’t been a classroom teacher, I believe that the role of the superintendent is to ensure teachers have the support and resources necessary to do their jobs well,” Menzel said. “…In 18 years, I’ve had great relationships with my teachers because we understood the role we each had in service to children.”
Menzel wants leadership structured on the foundation Dr. Kriekard, the governing board and the team at SUSD have built.
“I recognize that there have been a fair number of challenges over the past decade, and I hope that I can provide leadership stability for the next decade,” Menzel said. “I believe Scottsdale Unified can and will lead Arizona in educational excellence and achievement and that we will compete with the best schools in this nation and around the world.”
There were 29 applicants for the superintendent position, but the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board interviewed only three candidates.
“They also chose to include five different groups representing internal and external stakeholders to participate in the process,” Menzel said. “The governing board and community interview teams completed all the interviews on one day – a very long day.”
Menzel’s goals for the upcoming year include working with the governing board during his transition to Arizona to understand expectations for the forthcoming year.
“I am committed to an intensive listening tour where I can understand the hopes and aspirations of the Scottsdale community for the future of the district. By the end of that time, the board and I will formalize goals for the remainder of the year,” Menzel said.
In his off-time, Menzel enjoys being in nature – hiking and taking walks, watching college basketball and football and attending theater performances. He also loves to read.
“I am excited to get to know the students, families and staff that are part of the SUSD family,” Menzel said. “I was so impressed with the people I met during the interview process and I’ve been overwhelmed with positive words of encouragement after I was selected. It already feels like home and I can’t wait to get started.”
Menzel also added, “I am looking forward to NOT getting up at 4 a.m. to decide whether or not to close the school as a result of SNOW!”