Haysville hires Goddard’s Hersh as superintendent


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a conversation with Jeff Hersh and reflects the story in the Feb. 4 print edition. This story was first reported on tsnews.com.

By Travis Mounts

HAYSVILLE – Jeff Hersh will be the next superintendent for Haysville Public Schools.
Hersh’s hiring was announced Friday by the USD 261 Board of Education. Hersh is currently the assistant superintendent of human resources and student services for Goddard Public Schools.
“We are extraordinarily pleased with the outcome of this search process. The Board is confident in our choice of Mr. Hersh and certain that under his leadership USD 261 will continue to lead public education as a student-first, nationally recognized, innovative district,” said USD 261 board president Paige Crum in a written statement.
Crum said that input from stakeholders played a major role in the search process. Those stakeholders included teachers, administrators, parents and community members.
“The input from the community as a whole was very helpful to our process,” Crum said. “As a board team we feel we made the right selection to serve our students and the community of Haysville.”
Hersh was among four candidates interviewed by the board over a four-day period, Jan. 19-22. The other finalists were Jim Goracke, superintendent of Sterling and who started his education career in Haysville; Dr. Dawn Johnson, superintendent of Nickerson; and Dr. Clint Schutte, who is Haysville’s assistant superintendent for business and finance.
Hersh told TSnews that several factors led him to accept the job with Haysville.
“The thing that really sold me at Haysville was the people and their general concern for students,” he said. He saw a district that emphasizes building relationships with students and patrons. “They are a district committed to that.”
Hersh noted that staff members have truly bought in to the Capturing Kids Hearts effort, which fosters social and emotional learning. He also praised the district’s facilities, calling them “phenomenal,” and was impressed with the strong leadership in the Haysville community at large. He even spent time with Mayor Bruce Armstrong during the interview process.
“They have a lot of pride in the community itself,” Hersh said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to go down there.”
The strong community ties remind him of the relationship between Goddard and its schools.
“One thing I know from being in Goddard is, and I see the same in Haysville, great schools build great communities,” he said.
Hersh has a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Newman University, a master of science in educational leadership from Wichita State University, and a certificate in district leadership from WSU.
Education was not Hersh’s first career. That was supposed to be a second career later in life.
Hersh planned to have a full career in law enforcement. He said he wanted to work in that field until he was around 45 or 50 years old, when many lifetime law enforcement officers retire. After that, he planned to go into education.
This started well when Hersh earned a spot with the Kansas Highway Patrol the first time he applied. He went to work for the KHP in June 1989. He was following in the footsteps of his father, Kenneth, who served with the patrol for nearly 28 years.
But less than a year later, on May 24, Hersh’s life changed with a traffic stop just north of Wichita on Interstate 135. According to an Associated Press report, Hersh was writing a warning ticket for the vehicle with Texas plates. When he returned to the vehicle, one of the occupants opened fire with a handgun.
Hersh was struck eight times. The AP report said his protective vest likely saved his life.
Once he recovered, he resumed his career but was not able to go back on patrol. Not long after, Hersh began taking the steps to begin his career in education, albeit much sooner than planned.
A native of Fredonia, Hersh was greatly influenced by a teacher and coach named Gene John.
Laying in the ditch along the highway, Hersh recalled the words of Coach John from a high school practice: “Jeff, get up.”
Hersh said he was later able to share that story with John, who has since passed away. Hersh said Coach John was as big of an influence on his life as his parents were.
Hersh has been with Goddard Public Schools for 26 years. He has been an assistant superintendent since July 2013. Before that, he spent time as the principal at Challenger Intermediate School, and was an assistant principal at Eisenhower Middle School.
The Kansas Association of School Boards assisted in the search, and produced 18 candidates for the USD 261 BOE to choose from.