Godfrey gets unanimous vote from Jordan Board of Education to be new Jordan School District superintendent
Jul 02, 2019 01:47PM
By Julie Slama
Jordan Board of Education members, South Jordan City officials, Jordan School District administrators, including incoming Superintendent Anthony Godfrey on the right, joined Mayor Dawn Ramsey on her April 9 bus tour, “Seeing SoJo with the Mayor” for Jordan District school children. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Ramsey)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Two weeks after the May 28 Jordan Board of Education announcement of being named the new Jordan School District superintendent, Anthony Godfrey is ready to reveal secrets.
Those secrets include his reaction to being offered the position as head of the fourth-largest district in the state: “I’m thrilled; I’m excited. I’ve worked in Jordan School District a long time and love it.”
Well, that isn’t so much of a secret since Godfrey has worked his way up the ladder in Jordan District, including most recently being associate superintendent during the past 26 years.
But, how about this secret?
With the announcement years ago of West Hills Middle School’s mascot, a mock fight between the wildcat and another mascot choice took place on the auditorium stage, with the winning mascot resulting in the school’s mascot. It was actually Godfrey, who was a teacher there at the time, dressed up in a neighbor’s Weber State University mascot costume, giving the last punch to send the Wildcats to victory.
“I’m ready to reveal, for those lost fans of that time, who it really was dressed as the mascot,” he said, adding that he doesn’t even recall the proposed mascot he was fighting.
That may be about the only secret he’s held onto; those who know him, including Jordan Board of Education member Marilyn Richards, say “he’s a well-spoken, straight-forward genuine person.”
Richards has known Godfrey since 1999, when she was principal of Jordan High School, which was in Jordan District at that time, and for five years, he was her assistant principal or “my right arm.”
“I knew then, he was destined to be great,” Richards said. “The kids loved him. He was so bright and had a great sense of humor. He’d always bring and share funny cartoons.”
She remembers for her 50th birthday, Godfrey packed her office with black balloons, but in the middle of them was a “big red U balloon,” which the Brigham Young University graduate wasn’t happy to see.
However, Richards got her lasting revenge. One day when Godfrey was assigned to give parking tickets on cars without permits, she received a call who described a “little red-headed boy” was outside, checking out all the cars. Ever since then, Richards has called Godfrey her “little red-headed boy.”
“I’m glad we’re working together again,” she said. “He already knows our programs, has things in place, has established relationships with people and is knowledgeable of the workings of our district. I’m sure that little red-headed boy will continue to lead our district to great heights.”
Even though Godfrey has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and worked in the district office, he said that his first goal is to get out to the schools to meet students, parents and all the employees.
“I want to know what they like that we’re doing, what we can do better, how can we be more efficient and effective,” Godfrey said. “I want the chance to hear how we can collaborate, work together. With faculty, I want to hear what will make their jobs better. Sometimes, we ask more instead of taking things off their plate. I want to know how to provide more resources for them.”
Understanding the people and their needs are among the qualities Board of Education Vice President Tracy Miller appreciates in Godfrey.
“His leadership skills are amazing,” said Miller, who chaired the national superintendent search party. “He is so good finding solutions for many different and difficult situations. He has the valued, trusted relationships and the love of the district. He understands what has happened, where we have been and knows the direction we’re headed. He’s innovative in student achievement and is supportive of technology used to improve teaching and make it more effective.”
Already Godfrey is working with others to try to bring the 1:1 ratio of student to electronic device a step further, perhaps slowly rolling out a laptop check-out system throughout the district this fall so secondary students can use them the entire school year, including at home.
“This would help personalize learning and prepare them for their next level of education,” he said.
He plans to continue outgoing Superintendent Patrice Johnson’s motto, “every child, every day.”
“It is a really good reminder that even when class sizes can be large — as they are across the state, we need to focus on every individual child, their needs and making sure our 3,000 employees are challenging every one of the 55,000 students in the district every day,” he said. “My hope is to help people be the best they can and provide the support and resources they need.”
As students graduate, he hopes that not only do they learn the curriculum but also have the “soft skills” needed to be successful.
“They should be able to communicate, problem-solve, have stick-to-it-ness, grapple with problems and know how to learn,” she said. “These are skills that can translate into any job and help them be contributing citizens.”
While Godfrey plans to be visible, available and transparent as superintendent, he still plans to find time to take a break at concerts, “from beginning bands to superstars” because “I’m a big fan of live events, concerts, and I like a wide range of music.”
Richards attests to that. “If there is a concert in the valley, he’s there.,” she said.
She also said still drives his 20-plus-year-old Saturn with 300,000 miles on it, including to the movies, where he went to the opening nights of the recently released “Star Wars” and “Avengers.”
South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey looks forward to continuing working with Godfrey in his new position that he will assume July 1.
“For the past six years, I’ve worked with Dr. Godfrey with region PTA, Jordan Education Association and now as mayor, and I’ve known him to have the utmost integrity and serve as an outstanding educator and administrator,” she said. “I look forward to Jordan School District being a great district under Dr. Godfrey’s leadership.”