New year, new faces in San Juan School District as students return to school from summer
by Bill Boyle
San Juan Record Editor
School starts on August 16 in the San Juan School District, viewed as shocking evidence by many county residents who feel that the summer seemed to pass too quickly.
Approximately 3,000 students are expected to return to the twelve schools in the sprawling school district.
There are many new faces among teachers and administrators, including a new superintendent.
Christy Fitzgerald has replaced outgoing Superintendent Ron Nielson at the helm of the district.
Fitzgerald began working in the San Juan School District in 2016, starting as a principal before moving to the Assistant Superintendent role in the River Region, which includes the six district schools in Bluff, Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley, and Navajo Mountain.
Before working in the San Juan School District, Fitzgerald worked for eight years as an instructional coach supervisor at the Davis School District.
Fitzgerald has earned a Master of Science in Counseling/Mental Health and a Master in Educational Leadership.
The district shared in a release that Fitzgerald is working on a dissertation to earn a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.
Fitzgerald has a welcome article on page A7 of the San Juan Record.
Derek Begay will take Fitzgerald’s position as an Assistant Superintendent.
Begay has served in a variety of educational roles in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, including teacher, coach, principal and superintendent.
Begay has stated, “I am passionate about Indigenous cultures and sustaining our communities by empowering and educating our youth, involving our families and community, and respecting and learning from our elders. I am looking forward to meeting everyone virtually and welcome all the questions you have.”
There are large number of new principals and vice principals in the district, including Michael Johnson as the new principal at Blanding Elementary School, replacing Monique McDermott.
Kaitlyn Lyman is the new Assistant Principal at Blanding Elementary, replacing Kory Kowallis. Lyman previously served in Special Education at Albert R Lyman Middle School.
Jenny Atcitty is the new principal at Montezuma Creek Elementary School, replacing Anita Jacobsen. Atcitty previously was a lead teacher at the school.
Heather Amado is new principal at Tse’bii’nidzisgai Elementary School in Monument Valley. She replaces Denece Kitto.
Ryan Carlson is the new principal at Navajo Mountain High School, replacing Gary Rock. Carlson previously served as the assistant principal at Monument Valley High School.
New assistant principals at the high schools are Janna Rogers at Monticello High replacing Kyle Rarick, Barkley Christensen at San Juan High replacing Rogers, and Jacqueline Whitaker at Whitehorse High replacing Paul Lundberg.
There have been wholesale changes among the staff and faculty at Monument Valley High School. Twelve positions were impacted by various resignations, transfers and retirements.
The new principal is Donald Gandy, replacing Coerina Fife. Gandy was a lead math teacher at the school.
The new assistant principal is Jeff Fitzgerald, replacing Ryan Carlson. Fitzgerald was previously a counselor at the school.