And the new Winters Joint Unified School District Superintendent is Dr. Rody Boonchouy.
After months of seeking out a stellar superintendent that included a nationwide search spearheaded by McPherson & Jacobson, LLC., the Winters JUSD board and staff welcomed the new district leader, who was chosen with great precision, including community input provided by an online survey and in-person engagement sessions offered in English or Spanish.
After starting the search in July, the decision came down to 23 applicants vying for the position in September, when the board reviewed the best eight before narrowing down to three candidates who were interviewed by the board of trustees and panel of community education partners.
On Sept. 16, Boonchouy’s annual contract negotiations of $190,000 began for his three-year term starting Nov. 30. Boonchouy is contracted to receive a 3 percent yearly increase along with a $3,000 Ph.D. stipend. He will also get a monthly $400 car and $100 cell phone allowance and a health benefit contribution aligned with the administrative team.
But before the formal announcement at the Oct. 6 Winters JUSD meeting, Trustees thanked all who were part of the process.
“I think I speak for all of the board when I say thank you to all of the staff,” Board Clerk Joedy Michael said, adding their dedication through the transition was remarkable and appreciated. “Thank you even more so for the community engagement, I know that was huge, and I think the community appreciated it.”
Board President Carrie Green shared her excitement to share the district’s work with Boonchouy, who recently served as the Associate Superintendent of Instructional Services for Davis Joint Unified School District.
Green called out Boonchouy as a passionate instructional leader with “character, confidence, and compassion” that will add to Winters JUSD’s strengths. According to Green, Boonchouy’s vast educational experience, including work as a teacher, instructional coach, and principal, are just some of his attributes.
“He also brings years of experience in the educational nonprofit sector with a focus on professional development for student-centered teaching,” Green said.
Boonchouy’s first public statement from the podium acknowledged the district’s vetting process that came down to him.
“It was thoughtful, it was thorough, it was rigorous,” Boonchouy said. “It was so enlightening to hear the voice of the community, and I am also grateful for the participation of so many members of the community during that process as well.”
After thanking the students, parents, and staff involved, Boonchouy noted the board of trustee’s “outstanding work” that kept the district “ship a sail through this transition while juggling all kinds of roles.”
“And a particular shout out to Acting Superintendent Phoebe Girimonte for your leadership, much respect,” Boonchouy said.
The new leader was not the only one to acknowledge Girimonte’s role, with Board Trustee Everardo Zaragoza noting her guidance.
“I want to give Phoebe a shout-out for leading us this whole time: thank you so much, you do great,” Zaragoza said. “What a two-star team leadership we will have with you two.”
“I would like to think it will be a five-star experience,” Girimonte said, complimenting the five-member Board of Trustees right back.
Boonchouy said he recognizes the importance of the leadership transition, primarily since it deals directly with “the care and well-being of the children of this community.”
“Leadership matters so that the community has confidence in trusting their students to us so that staff feels supported as professionals, and so that we can get to that core business of quality teaching and learning for our students,” Boonchouy said.
The new district leader said he is ready to get down to business now that the unanimous motion has been made.
“I have some weeks before I get started, but I will be hitting the ground running with you because you are all running,” Boonchouy said. “When I hit the ground, I will engage in intensive outreach to listen, learn, and build new relationships.”
Board Trustee Kristin Trott said Boonchouy came to the table listening to the district’s concerns and goals.
“That was one thing that struck me as that you are really about being part of a team,” Trott said.
“This is a people business, and the quality of our work is often the quality of our relationships,” Boonchouy said.
The new leader said he would come to work with a lens for equity and innovation that will propel the district forward along with community involvement and collaboration.
Girimonte will continue to serve as acting superintendent in the interim. Meet and greet gatherings with Boonchouy will be announced soon.