Tod Lokey, Bayfield Middle School principal of five years, will leave the Bayfield School District in late June after resigning earlier this year.
Amid the transition, Lokey said he and the middle school staff remain focused on preparing for next year. The district has also launched a hiring process using a unique approach that relies on community input. The district plans to finish candidate interviews mid-March. For Lokey, the transition is bittersweet.
“Part of it is bittersweet because relationships with staff have always been my highest priorities,” Lokey said. “(Leaving those people) is a hard thing to work with, but I’m looking forward to new opportunities. Parts of it are really exciting, too.”
Lokey said he resigned to spend more time with his family in Durango and is considering educational leadership opportunities in the area.
“He’s a guy with a big heart and a lot of caring. He cares deeply about kids, and kids’ success, and he cares deeply for the staff,” said Kevin Aten, Bayfield superintendent. “That part, obviously, we’re going to miss.”
During his tenure, Lokey focused on test scores, social-emotional learning and using technology in classrooms.
Middle school students were more prepared for high school – eighth graders scored more than 800, the school’s goal, on the PSAT. Classrooms moved to one laptop per student. The school also added mindfulness, social-emotional learning curriculum and Sources of Strength programs.
“It’s been really fun to work closely with the staff and make sure the values and priorities that we’ve built up over time get carried into the next year’s schedule,” he said.
The school district asked staff, students, parents and community members to give input through surveys and apply to join the hiring committees.
“You want to hear their voice, but then, also, you want to put that in the hands of the candidates, so our finalists know this is what the school community thought was a priority,” Aten said. He uses this process because it is the most transparent and fair, he said.
In the anonymous online survey, community members can rank the importance of key candidate qualifications. They can also suggest questions for the hiring process.
Students, community members, parents and staff can also apply to join the interview committees. Both the survey and the interview committee applications are due by Sunday.
Change is hard, Aten said. But Bayfield Middle School has a strong, future-focused group of teachers and administrators.
“We want to continue the good work that’s already happening,” he said.