Neufeld settling in as new school superintendent

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Janet Neufeld has taken the reins as superintendent of the Pawhuska Public Schools and said she is looking forward the tackling any challenges which lie ahead.

Neufeld was named to the superintendent’s position May 19 after local school board members selected her from a field of nearly two dozen candidates. The longtime Kansas teacher/administrator, who has 30-plus years of education experience, officially started work last Friday.

Dr. Land0n Berry, Neufeld’s predecessor, announced in February that he would be resigning locally to accept the superintendent’s job in Porum, his home town. Berry — whose contract expired June 30 — had been with the Pawhuska school district for the past four years.

Among the challenges mentioned by Neufeld: continuing to offer quality instruction when faced with ever-diminishing resources.

Three days into her local tenure, Neufeld said Thursday that “everything has gone really well.”

“Unfortunately, this is the time of year when a lot of people I’m wanting to meet with are on vacation,” Neufeld said, adding the delays had actually provided her with extra opportunities to “get settled in.”

The Pawhuska superintendent is nearing completion of a doctorate in education leadership from Kansas State University. She has previously received a bachelor’s degrees in art and history from Bethel College in Newton, Kan., and earned counselor’s certification at Wichita State. About a decade ago, she added a degree in administration from Pittsburg (Kan.) State.

Neufeld served as assistant superintendent with the Newton school district until 2013 when she was hired to her first superintendents position in the Twin Valley Unified District — overseeing neighboring elementary and secondary systems in the Salina-area school districts of Bennington and Tescott.

Over the next few months, Neufeld is hoping to develop “a personal relationship” with the district community.

“I want to learn its history and have an understanding for the people,” the superintendent said. “At the same time, I will be letting them know who I am.”

Neufeld’s immediate plan is to meet with the local school board in order to understand their “vision” for the district. (The Pawhuska Board of Education is scheduled to meet July 18.) She said her primary objective will be “about developing goals for the kids in the district.”