Porter named FDCSD superintendent
Current athletic and activities director at FDSH will take over July 1
Josh Porter sees himself as a passionate advocate for students, a driven worker and a life-long Dodger.
The challenge of being just the 12th Fort Dodge Community School District superintendent in the last 114 years is a big one. At the end of the day, Porter feels like he will bring much-needed stability and balanced leadership to the role during a period of transition for the community in so many ways.
The 1999 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate was officially promoted to the lead role in the FDCSD on Thursday. The current Fort Dodge Senior High athletic and activities director will formally become superintendent on July 1, according to a district press release.
“I’m incredibly excited and honored,” the 41-year-old Porter said. “I’ve always looked at a superintendent position as something I could potentially be interested in down the road, but the more I thought about the possibility of doing this in my hometown right now, the more it piqued my interest.
“I’m committed to our district and the Fort Dodge community. This is home. And I will take a great deal of pride in making sure we continue to move forward together. Having the ability to influence and work with people and leaders at multiple levels to ensure a brighter future for our kids is a responsibility I embrace every single day.”
Porter moved back to Fort Dodge in 2021 after 14 years in the Clarinda School District. He served as the athletic director, interim high school principal, middle school principal, and transportation director there before applying for and accepting the FDSH athletic and activities position in May of 2021.
Porter obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Central College in 2006, his Master’s from Grand Canyon University of 2010, and secured his superintendent license through Drake University this past summer.
Dr. Denise Schares is the current FDCSD interim superintendent. Porter said he will “work closely with Dr. Schares these next few months, which will be a terrific opportunity for me to learn and prepare myself for what’s to come.”
“My goal is to be a stable, calming influence,” said Porter, a former FDSH Schultz Award winner, Dodger state wrestling champion, and captain and All-American for the Iowa Central wrestling program. “We have incredible, intelligent people who are passionate about education. I think anyone who knows me would say I’m a very positive, energetic person, and I want to bring out the best in everyone I work with, from the administrators and the teachers on through the line.
“Relationships matter. The way people are treated and the true respect you show makes a big difference at the end of the day. We need to continue to emphasize the good, while understanding and embracing the fact that we have a lot of work ahead.”
According to the FDCSD press release, “board members worked with Grundmeyer Leader Services to conduct the search. The board strongly considered input from its stakeholder survey, as well as the long-term benefits Mr. Porter brings to the district and community.
“The board reviewed the application pool on January 23, (which) included 14 applicants. Seven candidates screened with the school board on January 30. Based on the current needs of the district, Mr. Porter provided clear insights about district needs and offered a unique opportunity to provide long-term district leadership as superintendent.”
Porter listed building safety, the mental health of both students and staff, and improving graduation rates among his chief concerns.
“The people of Fort Dodge are great, and I’m here for them,” Porter said. “It’s a very loyal and special place. It’s in the fabric of who I am as both an educator and a person.
“You’re able to accomplish so much if you communicate well and get on the same page with each other. That’s both my responsibility and my vision: to continue to build something we can be proud of together here, while building each other up in the process.”
Porter hopes his tenure will be more about his altruism and less about himself when all is said and done.
“At the end of the day, I want to be recognized and remembered as someone who cares about the kids and other people,” Porter said. “This isn’t about me. We have 500-plus employees and over 3,600 students in this district, and I’m here to represent all of them. I’m not afraid to work and I’m not above anything or anyone.
“I’m just incredibly thankful for the trust the board is showing in me, and the support of my family. You don’t go into the process of even applying for superintendent lightly. I’m very appreciative of the people who have been there for me and believed in me. The best way to repay them is to do this the right way from day one.”
Porter and his wife, Sandy, have three children: daughter Karson, age 12; and sons Knox (10) and Kruz (6).