Jay Hummel, 63, has been named interim superintendent of Wallowa School District. Hummel, formerly of Treasure Valley, Idaho, was on the job Tuesday, July 10, getting to know staff and preparing the school for opening this fall.
“The interim one-year position was attractive to me, both the location and the opportunity to work in a good district like this,” he said. “I’m here to do the very best I can for the next year.”
Hummel has 40 years of experience in education in a variety of posts including instructor, coach, high school counselor, athletic director, vice principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Most of his career was spent in Oregon and Idaho including his eight-year stint as head of schools in Kuna, Idaho.
Despite his depth of experience as an administrator, he identifies primarily as an educator, he said.
“I’m terribly interested in learning and what it takes to help students learn,” he said. “To me that’s the fundamental interaction inside of the school we should focus on. I take my job working with people’s children very, very seriously.”
His attraction to the Wallowa City position was based on a number of factors including his preference for the ranching and rural environment. His wife of 40 years, Beth, works in practice management for veterinarians; his son is a veterinarian and roper; and a strong theme of horsemanship runs through the family.
“I feel like I fit pretty well,” he said. “I like folks that work like this — it’s been our life as well; this (agricultural and natural resource-based) life is comfortable to me and I understand it and there are cultural, moral and integrity (values) that go with this lifestyle that I think is very important to the community.
“It’s really nice when the community and the parents reciprocate in an equal way and they form that synergy — that becomes really powerful. I had heard that in the background information about Wallowa, and I sensed it during the interviews.”
Hummel said the August board meeting would be a goal-setting event, and he was looking forward to that. July and August will be spent making sure the school is ready to go for the start of the new school year.
“It was always a test on how we spent our summers if on the first day of school I could walk out of my office and look down that hall and kids are in classes and I could walk class to class and we’re teaching — come on let’s go! When it all rolls out nice, the classrooms are set up, materials are ready and technology is working correctly — we want teachers to work, we don’t want them to be thinking about all this infrastructure.”
Former Wallowa Supt. Bret Uptmor took the job of Grant School District No. 3 superintendent effective July 1. It is not unusual for it to take a year or more for a school district to permanently replace a school superintendent. Hummel’s willingness to serve in an interim capacity allows the board the time necessary to conduct a search and create a multi-interview process.