Former superintendents continue to advocate for education

Longtime school superintendents Don Coberly and Wil Overgaard only managed to stay retired for about two months.

After a 41-year career in education, Overgaard retired as Weiser’s superintendent on July 1.

Don Coberly

That same day, Coberly retired as Boise’s superintendent after 38 years in education.

By late August, Overgaard was already on the phone with board members from RISE, Treasure Valley’s education partnership, about a leadership opening that Coberly was also interested in.

In the end, they both got the job. Overgaard and Coberly were named co-CEO’s of RISE this fall.

“We met with business partners in the valley after that to chart a course moving forward working together,” Coberly said.

Created in 2012, the nonprofit was created by Treasure Valley school superintendents, nonprofits and business leaders in the wake of Idaho voters overturning Propositions 1, 2 and 3 — the so-called Luna laws. In the wake of the divisive repeal, early RISE TVEP leaders recognized that different groups needed to work together to work for change.

Coberly and Overgaard are paid for their roles as co-CEOs and they both work part-time.

“It’s a great gateway into retirement that allows me to keep a hand involved in things I’m interested in and helping kids,” Overgaard said.

Although they are still settling into their roles, RISE gives the retired superintendents a chance to continue to advocate for K-12 education.

Wil Overgaard

They travel across the Southern Idaho Conference schools and blog about bright spots that inspire them and work to build partnerships between community leaders, business executives and educators. They are actively looking for additional groups to speak to and network with.

And the pair focus on RISE’s community benchmarks, which include kindergarten readiness, early reading, postsecondary enrollment and postsecondary completion/employment.

Equity in education and Latino issues are also key principles.

They also support current K-12 administrators and plan to stand with educators and testify during the upcoming legislative session.

“After 41 years, I  still have a real interest in education and advocating for public schools,” said Overgaard, who likened his retirement to quitting something cold turkey. “The opportunity to work with Don seemed like a good opportunity and a good way to spend some time in retirement.”

In their first few months on the job, Coberly and Overgaard have blogged about local bright spots they learn about during SIC meetings. They highlighted Taft Elementary and other community schools in Boise, as well as Nampa’s co-teaching model, which is helping close achievement gaps for English Language Learner students. They plan to continue to submitting blogs to Idaho Education News and are planning an upcoming visit to Mountain Home to research their next post.

“We bring a breadth of experience — almost 80 years between the two of us, although I think to some that just makes us old,” Coberly joked.


Clark Corbin

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