Uvalde picks new leader as 6 other districts hire superintendents

Several districts are promoting from within in choosing their next superintendents.

The Uvalde school district has chosen its new superintendent after a year without a permanent leader while a large Florida district and a half-dozen others also filled vacancies at the top.

Ashley Chohlis
Ashley Chohlis

Ashley Chohlis, a 28-year educator who has been superintendent of Texas’ Poth Independent School District since 2022, was named Monday as the lone finalist to take the helm of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District later this month, the Uvalde Leader-News reported.

The search to replace interim superintendent Gary Patterson began in August, and Uvalde CISD received applications from 30 candidates, according to the Leader-News.

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Hillsborough County Public Schools, one of the nation’s top 10 largest districts, has made Van Ayres superintendent after he served as the interim of the Florida district for several months.

Ayres is a lifelong employee of the Tampa-headquartered district, where he began his career as a science teacher in 1997. Prior to being chosen interim superintendent, he served as chief of strategic planning and partnerships and deputy superintendent. Ayres expressed his gratitude on X (formerly known as Twitter):

“This is more than a job to me; Hillsborough County Public Schools is where I grew up and it is where my heart will always be,” Ayres said on the district’s Facebook page.

In Missouri, Superintendent Aaron Gerla has found a new home at Mountain Grove Public Schools after having led the Ash Grove R-IV School District for eight years. Gerla intends to leave Ash Grove at the end of the school year.

Districts are promoting from within

Several other districts made internal hires to fill leadership vacancies. Westminster Public Schools in Colorado has decided to promote Deputy Superintendent Jeni Gotto to the top spot at the end of the school year. Gotto will succeed Superintendent Pam Swanson, who is retiring.

At the school board meeting where Gotto was chosen, former Westminster Board of Education president Dino Valente insisted promoting from within often works out better than national searches, which can result in “division and chaos.” “Our students and staff deserve better,” Valente said. “They deserve continuity and stability. They deserve leadership that puts the best interests of their futures at the forefront of the mission.”

Laurel County Public Schools in Kentucky has promoted its interim, Denise Griebel, to the full-time superintendency, capping off her 32 years with the district. Griebel, who began her career as a 7th-grade science teacher, has also served Laurel County as an assistant and deputy superintendent in 2011 since 2007.

“After serving just a few weeks as interim superintendent, I found learning all the new aspects of the role, along with the challenges that some of them brought to be energizing and motivating for me as a veteran educator,” Griebel said on the district’s website.

In Texas, the Ceres USD Board of Trustees has appointed alumna Amy Peterman as its next superintendent. Peterman, who is now the district’s deputy superintendent of educational services, will succeed Denise Wickham, who is retiring in June.

Finally, the one-building Schroon Lake Central School in New York has named its preK-12 principal, Kemm Pemrick, to become its next superintendent on Jan. 1.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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