Dobbs stresses teamwork in Twin Falls

TWIN FALLS – Wiley Dobbs has spent his whole life preparing to manage the growing Twin Falls School District.

Dobbs is a Twin Falls lifer and Twin Falls High School graduate. Short of driving the bus, he has held every job in the district.

Wiley Dobbs
Wiley Dobbs

Dobbs took his first job in the Twin Falls School District in 1982, working as a substitute teacher by day and bouncer by night.

After that it was teacher, wrestling coach, rodeo adviser, middle school principal, district director of operations and, finally, superintendent.

“I’m a 42-year veteran of the district if you count my 12 years in school,” Dobbs said. “I have a really deep knowledge of the district and community, which I think has helped. But there is also a mindset that we’re not always going to do what we‘ve always done.”

This summer Dobbs was honored for his years of devotion to one district, selected the Idaho Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year in a vote of his fellow superintendents.

“Wiley is highly respected with his peers, and his leadership is seen and certainly appreciated amongst them,” IASA executive director Rob Winslow said.

Dobbs is known for collaboration and teamwork. During Region 4 IASA meetings, Dobbs doesn’t just show up alone and call it good. He brings his district leaders or principals.

During classroom observations, Dobbs brings building principals or academic coaches.

“He very much deserves the superintendent of the year award,” said Ted Popplewell, director of elementary education and school district veteran. “He’s just a great guy.”

Dobbs said he’ll continue to embrace a collaborative leadership style as the district faces its next challenges.

District leaders are weighing whether to move forward with a major expansion — asking voters to build three new schools.

To weigh the issue, Dobbbs and the district put together a 32-member committee, with half of the appointees coming from outside the district.

“Occasionally I come up with a good idea, but it always gets better when you shop it around,” Dobbs said. “As you bring more minds to the table, you’re able to address more issues. I’ve never considered any other approach.”

In academics, Twin Falls is a high-performing district. Nine of the 13 schools earned four stars in the state’s most recent five-star rating system.

But Dobbs hopes to improve the district’s SAT scores, which are above the state average at Twin Falls High School and below average districtwide.

One factor could be language, Dobbs said; district students speak 25 languages. Dobbs said he is especially pleased with scores on the Idaho English Language Assessment and increasing scores at Canyon Ridge High School.

“We would like to see our students do even better on important assessments,” Dobbs said.

Overall, Dobbs said he is especially pleased with where the district is and where it is going. He said winning the auperintendent of the year award was really a large reflection on the whole district’s strength.

“We’re highly successful,” he said. “And we’re a model in other places that have refugee students or refugee center. We’re a very inviting and nurturing community and school district.”