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FD schools name Schares interim superintendent

Cochrane: Candidate exemplified 'passion for education'

An interim superintendent for the Fort Dodge Community School District has been named.

Dr. Denise Schares, an associate professor at the University of Northern Iowa, will take the helm at the Fort Dodge schools starting July 1.

In late April, current Superintendent Derrick Joel gave his resignation to the Board of Education. Joel — who began with the district on July 1, 2021 — will be leaving to become assistant superintendent of the Norris School District outside of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Schares was selected by the Board of Education after being interviewed by the board on Wednesday evening.

“We were extremely impressed with the strength of our candidate pool in terms of wealth of experience and passion for education,” said School Board President Stu Cochrane. “We thought Dr. Schares exemplified the passion for education that we were looking for, and she had exceptional academic credentials that we thought made for a great leadership fit to move our district forward.”

Schares has more than 40 years of experience in public education. She began as a vocational home economics and health teacher in several eastern Iowa school districts throughout the 1980s.

By 1994, she was the director of instructional services for the Union and Hudson Schools in La Porte City and Hudson. Schares served as director of professional development and associate superintendent for the Waterloo Community School District from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, she became the superintendent for the Clear Creek Amana Community School District in Oxford.

Since 2013, Schares has been an assistant professor of educational leadership at UNI. Also at UNI, she serves as the director of the Institute for Educational Leadership, coordinator for the Superintendent Program and is a member of the graduate faculty.

Schares received her bachelor’s of science degree in vocational home economics education from Iowa State University in 1978. She went on to earn her master’s degree in educational psychology and doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UNI in 1986 and 1994.

“I am excited to join the Fort Dodge team and am looking forward to getting to know the community, staff and students,” Schares said.

Schares will be hired with a one-year contract as interim superintendent, Cochrane said. In the winter, the board will look at hiring a permanent superintendent for the district, though he said if Schares is the right fit, the board could look at extending her contract past the interim year.

Three other external candidates were interviewed by the Board of Education on Wednesday.

Those candidates were Bob Olson, a former superintendent with the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows Community School District; Jon Thompson, a former superintendent at Aplington-Parkersburg and current superintendent in Minnesota; and Corey Lunn, a former superintendent with the Johnson Community School District.

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