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Originally posted August 16, 2012
After nearly two decades as the district’s top administrator, Union Superintendent Dr. Cathy Burden plans to retire next summer. Dr. Burden made the announcement during the employee annual back-to-school kickoff today, Thursday, August 16, at Union High School’s Performing Arts Center.
She explained, “I have been one of the most fortunate people on earth to spend 19 years at Union in a profession that I am passionate about and in a district and job that I love. But at the end of this school year, on June 30, I will retire – a Union Redskin for life!”
Dr. Burden also announced Union’s Board of Education already had a plan in place for her replacement. She said Associate Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler will spend this school year as Deputy Superintendent, taking on more of the day-to-day responsibilities as she focuses on engaging the community in support of Union schools and public education in general.
Dr. Burden told the more than 1,500 employees in attendance, “Three years ago I began planning with our Board of Education so when the time came for me to retire, there would be a continuity of vision and seamless transition of leadership. The Board recognized that the depth and quality of leadership on our administrative team was second-to-none and that maintaining our focus by elevating that leadership would allow the Union Way to continue without interruption. They have so wisely selected Dr. Hartzler, a fine person and respected leader, as our next Superintendent who will begin in July 2013.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathy Dodd is now stepping into the Associate Superintendent position. Chief Financial Officer Debbie Jacoby and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Charlie Bushyhead round out the top-level management team.
Dr. Burden praised the Union community for the incredible opportunities it has created for students and their families from early childhood all the way through high school graduation and beyond. The most recent, the opening of the High School’s new Union Collegiate Academy, fulfills a dream and vision Dr. Burden has had for years and will go a long way toward reaching what Dr. Burden describes as Union’s “audacious goal” of graduating 100 percent of its students ready for college and/or careers.
Inviting attendees to tour the brand new facility, Dr. Burden highlighted what they would see.
You will see that the environment is college-like with student study areas, specialized science labs, computers for virtual courses, and tiered rooms that look like college lecture halls. The Grand Hall will provide meeting space for large or small groups and the Cyber Café will be a Starbucks-like area open all day so students can use the building day and night. Additional spaces include an Alumni Center, fine arts display, and outdoor classrooms. I hope that UCA becomes a destination for younger grades all over the district to witness science demonstrations, visit the College and Career Center, and just get excited about how concurrent college classes and AP classes can help them earn college credit during their journey to college from high school.
Union Board of Education members joined Dr. Hartzler on stage after Dr. Burden’s speech to surprise her with a plaque and announce it will be hung in the newly named Catherine E. Burden College and Career Center of Union’s Collegiate Academy. Member Ed Payton summed up the Board sentiments by praising Dr. Burden and underscoring their excitement in having Dr. Hartzler take the Superintendent position in July. He said one of her many strength has been to create a depth of expertise.
“Every so often in our lives, a moment comes when something happens and from that point forward there will be a new before, and a new after. This is one of those moments,” Payton said.
“To the fearful, such a change may seem to mean that we have lost our leader and thus we are liable to lose our way,” explained Payton.
“But such is not the case today. We have lost neither leadership, nor our way…...Dr. Burden has helped establish an environment of empowerment, which enables leadership at all levels and in all locations to grow and prosper. In so doing, her leadership has given Union strong roots; this change of Superintendents that will be occurring at the end of this school year will build upon those roots, giving us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights,” Payton said.