The Phoenix Union Governing Board unanimously named Dr. Chad E. Gestson the permanent superintendent at the Thursday night board meeting.
The motion to accept and approve a superintendent search process timeline was amended by board member Stephanie Parra, following a leadership profile report by an executive search team that included input from almost 1,000 stakeholders.
“I am honored and excited to serve this community for many years to come. Phoenix Union is poised for great success in the future – an excellent governing board, exceptional leadership at all employee levels, a supportive community, and the best students,” Dr. Chad Gestson said.
Gestson had been serving as the interim superintendent since August, when Dr. Kent Scribner was hired to lead the Fort Worth, TX Independent School District. Gestson’s interim contract was to run through June 30 while a superintendent search began in November. The Governing Board will begin work on Gestson’s new contract.
“When the search team made the report tonight publically, it was not as effusive as we heard it privately,” Governing Board President Lela Alston said. “They said they had never been in a district like this that was so together. Every single aspect – staff, parents, students, community members were all together with a singular purpose… It’s so good to have that validation from the community.”
“Dr. Scribner was the right man for a season. He did a great job, restoring trust and spirit in the district, and was perfect for that season. But this a new era, and you are the perfect guy, Dr. Gestson. I am confident that the Gestson era will be the most exciting era for Phoenix Union in a long, long time,” Board Clerk Ian Danley said.
Gestson, 38, who has been with Phoenix Union for seven years is the 18th permanent superintendent in the 121-year history of Phoenix Union. After serving as principal of Camelback High School for five years, he became a member of the superintendent’s Leadership team last year as the Director of School Leadership, overseeing principals and developing future principals and assistant principals in an Aspiring Leaders program.
Gestson, the 2013 District Administrator of the Year, was a 2013-14 Rodel Exemplary Principal, one of only seven in the state that year. In that role, he mentored aspiring teachers, particularly those who will lead schools of lower income students.
Among his accomplishments at Camelback, he instituted an Advisory period where students meet daily for four years with the same advisor, started an evening credit-recovery Virtual School, opened the first Montessori High School program in the state, founded the Food and Clothing Bank that serves the entire community, reinvigorated the Camelback Alumni Association and partnered with many local business and groups, including Social Venture Partners, which has invested time, talent and funding in the school.
Camelback’s student achievement improved, college scholarships for students increased, and student participation in sports, the arts, clubs, community service and campus event attendance or other activities was mandatory.
Gestson won the 2010-2011 Lead and Inspire Award, Urban High School Division, presented by ASU’s Office of Education partnerships. He also won the award as a middle school principal at Carl T. Smith Middle School in the Isaac School District in 2008.
Gestson spent five years as an administrator in the Isaac School District, and taught for three years in the Roosevelt Elementary District. A Teach for America product, prior to his public education career, he was a commercial construction superintendent in Seattle. He has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington, two Masters from ASU and Northern Arizona, and an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from NAU.
Gestson is married to Megan, a principal in Roosevelt Elementary District, and they have two children: Olivia, (11) and son, Andrew (8). Gestson resides in Phoenix.