Lander School District details administrative changes taking place this fall

(Lander) – Fremont County School District #1 will have several new administrators in place when school begins next August. Superintendent of Schools, Mike Bowman, said, “The new staff we have hired will complement our existing leadership team very well, and they have demonstrated that they have a ‘do what’s best for students’ philosophy in their past positions.”

In addition to those below, FCSD1 will also have a new superintendent come the fall. Bowman announced his retirement earlier this month. The process of hiring a new superintendent has begun.

Ken Nielsen, who has worked in Fremont #1 as an elementary principal and Director of Student Services since 2001, will move into the position of Director of Curriculum. He replaces John Metcalfe who is retiring. Prior to working in FCSD#1, Mr. Nielsen was an elementary principal in Fremont 38 (Arapahoe) for four years. The Worland native taught in Worland and Kauai, and he was also a school administrator in Kauai. He holds an associate’s degree from Northwest Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and an educational specialist degree from the University of Wyoming. Members of the interview team indicated that his strengths include having a good knowledge of FCSD#1 and Wyoming education, teaching or principal background at each grade-level, good people skills, and good organizational skills. Mr. Nielsen is married to Jamey, who teaches third grade at Gannett Peak Elementary School, and they have three children who are enrolled in District schools. He also has another daughter who lives in Cheyenne.

Taking Mr. Nielsen’s place as Director of Student Services is Lander native Michael Harris. Mr. Harris is currently serving as Director of Special Education in Hot Springs County School District #1 (Thermopolis). Mr. Harris and his wife, Stephanie, returned to Lander in 2002 and have two children who are in FCSD#1. Prior to taking the position in Thermopolis, Mr. Harris worked eight years for the Wyoming Department of Education, first as a program consultant and then as the program manager for monitoring and accountability in the Special Programs Unit. Mr. Harris completed undergraduate and graduate studies at Pepperdine University and is currently completing a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. Interview team members were impressed with his knowledge of special education law, communication skills, understanding of students’ needs and how to meet them, knowledge of the Wyoming Department of Education and its requirements and expectations, and his work ethic.

Returning to small town roots is Julie Shanley, who has been selected to replace Brian Janish, who is retiring, as principal of Lander Middle School. Mrs. Shanley is moving to Lander from the Denver Public Schools where she serves as assistant principal of Henry World Middle School, which is a school twice the size of Lander Middle School. Prior to that, she taught math and science at Isaac Newton Middle School in the Littleton (Colorado) Public Schools for both honors students and special education students. She also taught high school science in California for two years. She understands the nature of rural western communities because she was raised in Dillon, Montana. Interview team members stated that she is genuine, passionate about education, an instructional leader, interacts with both students and parents, and has a strong background at the middle-school-level. Mrs. Shanley and her husband, Mitch, have two daughters who will attend school in Fremont 1. Mrs. Shanley has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana-Western, educational licensing coursework from Cal State-Bakersfield and the University of California-Riverside, and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.

Doug Hughes, who has worked since 2005 at Lander Valley High School as librarian, head football coach, and assistant track coach, will assume the position of Activities Director. Prior to moving to Lander, Mr. Hughes taught and coached in the Belle Fourche (SD) school district for 15 years at both the high school and middle school. Coaching assignments included head high school football coach, assistant high school coach in wrestling and track, and volleyball and basketball coach at the middle school. Mr. Hughes also serves as a high school wrestling official, and he helped organize and run this year’s LVHS wrestling tournament. Interview team members were impressed with his past history of mentoring young coaches, his organizational skills, his work ethic, and his knowledge of athletics and activities. Mr. Hughes and his wife Paige have a son who is enrolled in FCSD#1.

Jannette Van Patten, who has worked at Pathfinder High School as counselor since 2011, will serve PHS as principal and counselor next year. Kate Roberts, who worked as half-time principal at PHS and half-time assistant principal at Lander Middle School, will move back to Lander Middle School as full-time principal. Prior to employment with FCSD#1, Mrs. Van Patten was principal of the K-12 school in Farson for two years. She has also worked as a school counselor, a middle school math and Social Studies teacher, and an elementary teacher. Mrs. Van Patten has an associate’s degree from Casper College, a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming, and coursework that led to her principal’s endorsement from the University of Wyoming. Mrs. Van Patten and her husband have three adult children.

–Provided by Superintendent Michael Bowman