Peetz School District has a new leader. Jeff Durbin was appointed interim superintendent for the 2021-22 school year earlier this month, after the previous superintendent, Dustin Seger took a job as 7-12th grade principal at Haxtun School District.
Durbin has spent 30 years in education, 20 as a school administrator in the state of Colorado. He retired from Stratton School District a year ago, after nine years there, and before that he was an administrator at Otis School District and a teacher at Weldon Valley School District.
A “northeastern kind of guy” all of his life, Durbin grew up and was raised in northeast Colorado. He and his wife, Tamara, who is the executive director of Northeast Colorado BOCES, call Haxtun their home. They enjoy spending time with their four children and in the summer you can find them out at North Sterling State Park, where they own North Sterling Boat Charter and Rental.
“When I heard Peetz was looking for an interim superintendent and possibly going to be building a new school or do a major remodel of their existing school that excited me, so I threw my name in the hat to become a superintendent back in the field and work with the board. I was pretty excited when I was given the opportunity to come to join the Peetz Bulldog family,” Durbin said.
In his short time on the job he has already been busy helping the district as it works on trying to solidify a bond question for the November election, as well as go after a BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant to help with either a new building/retrofit or remodeling of the existing building. Last Saturday, the district held its first focus community group, where community members and stakeholders were invited to talk about what their best hopes, dreams, and wishes are for Peetz School and start looking at the possibilities, whether it’s building a totally new school or keeping some of the existing building.
“Some great conversations came out of that,” Durbin said.
When not working on that project, he is busy doing all the other day-to-day activities that go along with running the school district.
“It’s been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying being here and working with the people that I have around me,” Durbin said. “I can tell you that I have been very blessed in the fact that I have found a great core of wonderful teachers, a supportive school board. I am just now meeting the community and the students as we’re coming back to school and I’ve been very impressed with the students and community members that I’ve met, very friendly and welcoming to me, which I greatly appreciate.”
As an administrator, he values high levels of student achievement for all students; a safe, caring, well-managed learning environment; strong building-level leadership in partnership with the principal; highly effective educators; strong board, parent, student, and community relations; and effective budget and fiscal management.
“When the board hired me I think they were really looking for somebody who had some experience, knowledgeable of all aspects of the school district and I think with my 20-some years as a Colorado superintendent I was able to fill a lot of those needs and wants and basically when I came in I wanted to build a dialogue, an open working relationship with all members of the community, the board, the staff and just build that teamwork,” Durbin said.
As for the future and how long he may be with the district, he is on a one-year contract right now, but if things go well and the board wants to possibly talk about him staying longer, he would definitely entertain the option.
“Right now we’re just taking one step at a time and going from there, but if I do leave at the end of this year, I definitely want to leave a situation where a superintendent could come in and be successful picking up a wonderful staff and community and taking this (building) project to the next level,” Durbin said.
For now, though, he is just excited to get the school year started and has enjoyed meeting all the students. He is also looking forward to getting athletics underway.
“I’m hoping, my fingers are crossed that we as educators across the state will be able to operate a school year with a lot of normalcy, without any or very few interruptions and will be able to have a very successful year and kind of bring back some normalcy for kids and parents and just lives and bring some happiness and some smiles on faces,” Durbin said.
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