Lisa Boyd has a sign in her office that reads “Think outside the box.” When seated at her desk, it hangs over her head like a thought bubble in a comic strip. She points to the sign when she says the phrase out loud.
Thinking outside the box has become the mantra for the new Vallivue School District superintendent, who wants to push the Vallivue staff to innovate to help students.
When she was the principal of Desert Springs Elementary, Boyd led the school to be a pilot program for many things that later became commonplace among Vallivue schools.
- Desert Springs was among the first Idaho schools to use iPads in every classroom.
- Desert Springs implemented a third grade swimming program with the YMCA, where students could learn to swim.
- Boyd volunteered Desert Springs to be the pilot site for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which uses college prep activities with younger students to prepare them for post-secondary education.
Boyd was selected to lead Vallivue by the board of trustees on March 9. She has spent the last three years as the assistant superintendent for Pat Charlton, who is now the superintendent at Jerome, after 10 years leading Vallivue.
After working by Charlton’s side, Boyd said she learned a lot about being a leader, especially due to their clashing personalities. Charlton’s biggest strength, she said, was at keeping situations calm and being able to take a step back and prioritize issues. Charlton said Boyd likes to analyze situations and make quick decisions.
As he left the school district to move to Jerome, Charlton’s advice to Boyd was to keep being herself.
“Trust your instincts and trust the strong team of people that you have working with you,” Charlton said. “Everything else will fall into place.”
Boyd has deep roots in Canyon County
She was born and raised in Nampa, and attended school in the Nampa School District before leaving for the University of Idaho. Boyd went to Northwest Nazarene University for her master’s degree and attained her education specialist degree from the U of I.
After college, Boyd returned home and worked in Nampa schools for 14 years, with jobs teaching at Greenhurst and Iowa elementary schools and as an elementary principal. Boyd jumped over to Vallivue to help open Desert Springs Elementary, where she spent 11 years. She has spent the past three years as the assistant superintendent for the district.
“I’ve never gone anywhere,” Boyd said, laughing.
Boyd said she’s unsure of what drew her to education in the first place, but she has always been involved with teaching. When she was a fifth-grader at Nampa’s Sunny Ridge Elementary, Boyd would get sent to the first grade classrooms to tutor in math. In college, Boyd’s work study was teaching kindergarten and working a daycare for preschoolers.
“I like school,” she said, laughing. “My teachers early on saw that I could help others, and I enjoyed doing it. So I started teaching really early. It’s what I’ve been drawn to.”
Using CTE to move forward
Vallivue’s leadership has been relatively stable over the years. Charlton was superintendent at Vallivue for 10 years. Before him, George Grant was superintendent for seven years, and assistant superintendent for 10 years before that.
“It isn’t a district that is broken and needs to be fixed,” Boyd said. “We can focus right now on kids and academics and their growth.”
She inherits a district that is succeeding in some spots, but falling short in others.
Vallivue’s graduation rates and standardized test scores outpace state averages:
- Vallivue high schools have an 86.7% four-year graduation rate, compared to the state average of 80.7%.
- In the spring 2021 Idaho Reading Indicator exam, 69.9% of Vallivue students between kindergarten and third grade were reading at the set benchmarks (the state average was 65.1%).
SAT and go-on rates fall below the average:
- For the 2021 SAT, 22.5% of Vallivue juniors showed proficiency in both the English and math benchmarks. The state average was 29.1%.
- Vallivue (37%) and Ridgevue (30%) high schools both have a go-on rate lower than the state average (38%).
Going into her first year as superintendent, Boyd said one of her goals is to start getting more career and technical education into the school district. She’s not just talking about adding more welding classes to the high schools. Boyd thinks exposing younger students to what the work force looks like would be big for high school success.
“What are options so the kids can start seeing what the possibilities are for jobs out there in the real world?” she said.
Boyd said that putting more job ideas in students’ heads from a young age will help them be more prepared for high school, so they know what classes they need to take to attend the college they want.
“What do you like? And how do you figure out what you want to do before you have $50,000 or more in college loans?” she said.
As schools prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, Boyd said one of her top priorities is to keep students in school buildings.
“Getting kids in the building, in seats every single day, is critical to me,” Boyd said, adding that students performed better both academically and socially when they were learning from their classrooms.
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West Ada: Derek Bub has big goals in mind for the state’s largest district.
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