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Provo board selects Rittel as superintendent over Hudnall

By Genelle Pugmire - Daily Herald - | May 3, 2012
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Keith Rittel, the new Provo School District Superintendent. Courtesy Photo

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Greg Hudnall stands outside of Independence High School for photo Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 in Provo. ANDREW VAN WAGENEN/Daily Herald

PROVO — Keith Rittel from Clover Park School District in Lakewood, Wash., has been named the new Provo School District superintendent by the board of education. The announcement came Wednesday, just 24 hours after an open house featured Rittel and the other remaining candidate, Greg Hudnall, associate superintendent of the district.

Originally the announcement was scheduled for May 8 but the school board opted to move it up.

Rittel will begin serving July 1. Bob Gentry, who is serving as interim superintendent, is retiring from the district on June 30.

“It’s a great honor to have been chosen to lead Provo’s schools,” Rittel said in a statement released by the district. “The community and its resources are ideal for developing students. Parent support is excellent. I share the district’s vision for the future, and exceptional and diverse programs are in place. I look forward to getting to know the people in the community and working to develop a long-term relationship with the fine educators and staff in the schools.”

“Keith Rittel is a proven and successful leader of schools,” school board president Kristine Manwaring said. “He has a deep understanding about effective teaching and learning. As a school board, we are delighted to welcome him to our community.”

“This has been an extensive and inclusive three-month process in reaching this decision,” Manwaring said. “Our superintendent selection committee included more than 25 members selected from among our educators and community. The finalists went through four sets of interviews, including open houses. Board members conducted extensive interviews of references at the sites of the candidates.”

Manwaring noted that student achievement is Rittel’s first priority. “He has led notable growth in student achievement in each of his leadership positions. Teachers and administrators regard him as a highly effective leader with strong instructional knowledge.”

Rittel has been deputy superintendent of Clover Park School District since July 2008. Previously, he spent 11 years as a high school principal, with four years at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Wash., and seven years at Anacortes High School in Anacortes, Wash. In 2004, he was selected as Washington State’s High School Principal of the Year.

Prior to his tenure as a high school principal, Rittel was an assistant principal at East High School in Salt Lake City and a teacher at Woods Cross High School. While at Woods Cross, he was the school’s nominee for the Davis County School District’s Teacher Hall of Fame recognition. He also was a teacher in Prince George and Victoria, both cities/school districts in the Canadian province of British Columbia. He started his teaching career in 1984.

Rittel was originally trained as a professional trombone player at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. While living in Utah in the 1990s, he performed regularly with the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in addition to his teaching work and completion of a graduate degree.

There has been great public clamor over the superintendent’s position, which opened in February following the retirement of Superintendent Randall Merrill. The firing and ongoing appeal of Timpview High School’s former football coach Louis Wong has brought great interest to the district leadership and the desire from some quarters to hire the new superintendent from outside of the district.

According to board member Richard Sheffield, living outside the district was just one of a number of factors for their choice. He added the board also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring from within.

“There are pros and cons to both. Yes it was a factor but there were many factors,” Sheffield said. He added that Rittel had been a superintendent finalist in three other districts.

In the past few days letters from people unhappy with Hudnall were sent to district leadership and the media.

While he admitted to being disappointed, Hudnall added his congratulations.

“I want to wish the new superintendent well,” Hudnall said. “This has been an emotional roller coaster. For now, I will start looking at options in my future. I love Provo and want to help the district move in a positive way.”

Mayor John Curtis added, “I look forward to getting to know the new superintendent. My office is anxious to assist with the transition and do what we can to help the district be successful,” he said.


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