Karen Trusler has the end of her career in sight, and the lifelong educator wants to make sure she finishes at the top of her game.
“It’s my last lap, and I want to finish strong,” said Trusler, who will retire from her post as the superintendent of the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District on June 30, 2015.
That leaves the rest of this school year and the 2014-15 school year for Trusler to work on some very important needs in the school district such as the future of technology, the possibility of a second high school and the implementation of a new math curriculum for grades three through five.
“There is a sense of urgency for me to help the district meet these goals, and to help with the transition for the new superintendent,” Trusler said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity that the board has given me in order to work with our students, staff and our community.”
When Trusler walks out of her office at the administration building on Main Street in Windsor 18 months from now, she’ll have worked as a classroom teacher (20 years), teacher on special assignment for standards and assessments (4 years), elementary school principal (5 years) and superintendent (9 years), all since 1977 when she was hired at Tozer Primary School as a second-grade bilingual teacher. Trusler will have been employed in the education field for 39 years when she retires. She started her teaching career as a science teacher from grades two through five at Weldona near Fort Morgan in 1976.
During her years as the superintendent, Trusler will have led the school district through the impact of a tornado and the building of two new schools in Severance — a middle school and an elementary school.
“I originally shared that I would stay here three years,” Trusler said of when she took over as superintendent.
After those three years, the school board brought forward a five-year contract to Trusler and talked to her about where the district was heading. She agreed to stay another five years.
Trusler, 59, wrote a letter to the school board recently that said the 2013-14 school is the last year of her contract year, and that she would not seek another contract from the board.
“However, I would be open one more year of a supplemental contract to help with the transition through 2015,” Trusler said. “The board agreed and so how that will play out is that from Aug. 1 of next year until June 30, 2015, will be my last year as superintendent of schools. Of course, I have mixed feelings. Every position I’ve had in this district, I’ve always left when I think that I’m not done yet whether it’s going from second grade to first grade, or going from a teacher to become a principal.”
Trusler said she is only as good as the people who surround her.
“I think about our school leadership. I think of the central office leadership. I think about all of our staff members and the positive impact they have made, We are at a time of rapidly changing technology,” Trusler said. “My goal for this next year will be to see how we can help support student learning through the tech demands that we have, and how we can best help with the technology implementation that we need — infrastructure, devices and instructional support.”
Trusler said the other area she’ll address, once the long-range facility task force comes forward with a recommendation on high school growth, is what are the next steps for students at the high school level.
“When we need more space for students, what will that look like?” Trusler asked. “We know we have land available that we have out in Severance, but what type of site do we need for another high school? It’s a tremendous change for a district to go from a one high school town to a two high school town. We need community involvement.” Trusler admits that she doesn’t know what she’ll do in the next stage of her life, but it will be a lot of quality time spent with her husband, Keith, who retired six years ago after 34 years as a middle school science and math teacher from Greeley-Evans School District 6.
“I do know I will take time off and not have any plans to figure out what I want to do,” said Trusler, who added that she will make visits to Nashville, Tenn., to visit her son, Garth, and his wife, Haley. “I have lists of things I’ve wanted to do, and books to read. I love to go on ATV rides.”
Before she does that, though, she has one more 18-month ride that she wants to finish in style.