Iron County School District superintendent announces retirement

Iron County School District superintendent Shannon Dulaney, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 25, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney has announced she will retire at the end of the current school year, effective July 1.

Dulaney, who is in her eighth year as superintendent, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.

Reading aloud from her letter announcing her intention to retire, Dulaney expressed appreciation for the opportunity she has had to “teach and lead in this exemplary district located in this great community.”

After expressing her thanks to all those she’s worked with over the years, she concluded her letter by saying, “I love this profession, but most especially I love the people who work within this profession.”

Iron County School District Board of Education President Michelle Lambert commented publicly, saying, “Superintendent Dulaney is a visionary leader who has worked tirelessly over the last eight years to provide Iron County students with the best education possible. Her compassion and commitment have exemplified the district vision of ‘Creating a Better Tomorrow for ALL’ and have created new opportunities for learning and growth. As a board, we are united in expressing appreciation for her service and wishing her well in her future endeavors.”

Dulaney’s individual accolades include being selected last September as the 2020-21 Utah Superintendent of the Year by the Utah School Superintendents Association. 

Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney reads excerpt from Kyle Schwartz’s book “What I Wish My Teacher Knew” during a district-wide staff meeting at Canyon View High School, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 9, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Board members are expected to soon begin a nationwide search for a new superintendent.

During an interview with Cedar City News in her office Thursday, Dulaney said she has been considering retirement for the past year or so, in order to spend more time with her family.

“My husband’s been retired for quite a few years now,” she said. “I just want to be a grandma. We want to travel, and probably serve a mission or two while we’re still young enough to do that. We’re in a place right now where we’re able to do that, so that’s the plan.”

Although Dulaney and her husband Tim plan to keep Cedar City as their home, two of their sons live on opposite sides of the country, in Southern California and in Orlando, Florida, so they plan to travel to visit their family on both coasts regularly. They also have a daughter who lives in eastern Utah and a son who lives in Cedar City. Dulaney and her husband are proud grandparents to 13 grandchildren and counting, she said.

Dulaney then reflected on her 21-year educational career, which did not start in the traditional way.

“I got married right out of high school, about a year after I graduated,” she recalled. “I had been accepted to BYU, but didn’t go because we got married.”

Nevertheless, Dulaney said she was ultimately driven toward the education profession due to being inspired by one of her grade-school teachers.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, ever since the fourth grade. I had a wonderful, kind and loving teacher who was so good to me during a turbulent time in our family,” Dulaney recalled. 

“‘I’ve had wonderful teachers ever since,” she added. “I love school. I love education. I knew that going through all of my K-12 education. And so, when my youngest was preschool age, I decided to go back to school so that I could get my teaching degree.”

After graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Dulaney then began working as a substitute teacher in California.

About three years after that is when they decided to move to Southern Utah, she said.

“We came to Cedar City because our daughter was attending SUU,” she explained. “We fell in love with the community. My husband had just retired and I’d been teaching for three years in California. We took a leap of faith and came here. There were no teaching positions, so I ended up teaching at the at-risk facility that contracts with the district.”

“I fell in love with at-risk kids,” she said, adding that she went on to get her master’s degree and administrative endorsement from Southern Utah University and her doctorate at Utah State University.

“The rest is history,” she said.

Superintendent Shannon Dulaney has announced her retirement effective July 1, 2021. In her announcement, she expressed…

Posted by Iron Schools on Thursday, February 25, 2021

Later, while she was working as the district’s director of special programs, Dulaney said she was further inspired by then-superintendent Jim Johnson, who first brought the concept of professional learning communities to the district.

That concept, she said, fit right in with what she and her fellow educators were trying to do to help students who were struggling.

“We need to do more than just give them a packet,” she recalled. “We need to give them better opportunities. So we started doing that, and that’s what gave me my passion for going back to school for getting my doctorate degree at BYU. That’s what my research was on.”

Over the past eight years, ever since she succeeded Johnson as superintendent, Dulaney has made professional learning communities a primary emphasis, calling them a critical component for successful schools.

“That’s been our team focus, along with the previous board, is to find ways to make that more meaningful, to integrate it into the school day for our teachers so that they had time to collaborate. So they weren’t trying to meet at lunch, or for a few minutes before or after school. So they had time to do that, and to look at data, to truly be professional learning communities, all in an effort to increase student achievement.”

“I think that’s been the focus, and everything else that we’ve done has fit under that umbrella,” she said.

“We’ve got a great team here, we’re doing some wonderful things,” she added. “Can we do things better? Absolutely. Always. That’s been the drive over the last eight years with this awesome team, to build on what’s been put into place.”

“The data is showing that our kids are succeeding at higher levels than they ever have,” she added. “Our graduation rates are up. We’ll just continue to improve on that. I know that that’s the capability of this district. It really is a bright future.”

Added Dulaney: 

My hope is that the new school board, and our community, recognizes those great things, and will continue to support the innovation, support the social emotional learning of our students, support our teachers and their time to collaborate and their time to become all that they can become, in regards to their craft and their professionalism. Each one of them is a professional, and to be honored as a professional, is critical. To have that supported by the school board is going to be essential, as well as by our families in our community. Education is critical — we all know that. It’s critical to the dynamics of our community and the future of our community. And so honoring that, and being positive in our interactions with the schools as well as the district, will continue to build trust with our community. I think that’s essential.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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