Newman alumni, students recently named school superintendents

Office door

Several Newman University alumni and students have recently accepted district superintendent positions and will begin their new roles this summer.

Alicia Thompson

Alicia Thompson

Wichita Public School District 259 announced in February that Alicia Thompson '97, currently the assistant superintendent of USD 259, will take on the role of superintendent as of July 1. Thompson said her journey with the Wichita Public Schools started when she was 5 years old.

"I am a product of Wichita, I attended school here as a kindergarten student and graduated from Heights High School," she said.

Even though she started her career in education as a teacher, she quickly moved into administration. That was partly due, she said, to her experience with the faculty at Newman.

"I had been teaching in the school district for maybe a year or two and decided it was time to go back and get my masters," said Thompson. "I got my masters in curriculum and instruction at Kansas Newman."

Thompson said it was with encouragement from her professors at Newman along with others in USD 259 that she decided to continue her education and certifications, which eventually led her to her new superintendent role.

She spoke of her experience at Newman as being hands-on and personable. Coming from a smaller university in Oklahoma, she said she was looking for another university with that small, family feel, and Newman provided that for her.

"I really enjoyed the experience there. It was very intimate, smaller; you knew all of the teachers and they knew you," said Thompson. "Coming from Langston University, where they had a small intimate environment, that's what I was looking for to continue my education, and Newman was a great fit for me."

Bret Howard

Bret Howard

Bret Howard completed the District Level Licensure Program at Newman University in 2016 and has accepted the position of Superintendent at Uniontown (Kan.) USD 235 for the 2017-18 school year.

"My experience at Newman University was exceptional," Howard said. "The professors are all current professionals in the field. We were provided not only theory, but practical and real-world experience with our course work."

Howard will also begin his role on July 1.

Howard said he appreciated the flexibility that came with his Newman schedule. "The classes worked well with my busy schedule and the ability to meet online through video was great. It was an online class but had the personal touch of meeting face to face. You got to see and interact with your professors and colleagues on a weekly basis."

Joe Sample

Joe Sample

Joe Sample, who will begin his role at Ft. Larned (Kan.) Unified School District 495 on July 1, said his education at Newman allowed him to be a viable candidate for a superintendent position.

"Knowing that I was interested in the possibility of becoming a district administrator," said Sample, "I came upon the program at Newman University. I appreciated the opportunity to take online classes, but also have the opportunity to perform Zoom meetings and collaborate with colleagues." He said that taking courses at Newman has helped him grow his professional abilities and gain valuable knowledge for his future role.

Randy Hendrickson, currently going through the district leadership program at Newman, will begin his new role at USD 311 Pretty Prairie, Kan., on July 1. Joan Simoneau '16 became superintendent at USD 369 Burrton, Kan., in July 2016.

Learn more about the Newman University Education Program.

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