New Socorro Schools superintendent pays a visit

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He’s a husband, a father and a grandfather with “the cutest grandchildren in the world,” says this proud grandpa. The new guy in town is also a fisherman, a hunter and a golfer, who has already made himself familiar with New Mexico Tech’s excellent links.

This “new guy” is the new Socorro Superintendent of Schools Randall Earwood. He visited Socorro again last weekend with his wife, Karen, a K-12 teacher with a background in family and consumer science and child development. They spent last Saturday looking for a new home to settle into before the new superintendent hits the ground running to serve the district’s children.

Skills and vision

In a 4-1 vote, the Socorro school board appointed Earwood on April 2. On July 1, he steps into the position that will be vacated on June 30 by current Interim Superintendent Vanetta Perry.

“I look forward to working with the board. It was a great interview process and I look forward to this new partnership,” he said.

His impressive credentials include a bachelor of science degree in elementary education a master’s degree in education. He’ll be leaving his currently held position of superintendent of schools at Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools in El Rito.

Earwood brings both HR and technology skills to his new post, via previous positions as former director of employee relations for Las Cruces Public Schools and assistant superintendent for technology for Los Lunas Schools. To round out his already full palette, he was also principal and athletic director in Carrizozo and spent five years as an elementary school teacher in Roswell, as well as being a Church of Christ minister.

“My priority is simple — all kids deserve a good, high quality education,” he said. “‘Good’ means good instructional strategies, good leadership oversight with a strong vision for the district. My first task is to get an assessment going. I plan on talking to as many people as possible — all the shareholders, teachers, administrators, parents, concerned community members. Based on these conversations, I would bet you that there will be a consistency of themes and starting with that, I want to come up with strategies that meet those needs.”

When asked how his human resource and religious background could enhance his work with the district, Earwood was thoughtful for a moment.

“It all comes down to caring about people, being able to work with people … listening. I think one of my main strengths is that I can work with diverse groups of people across the board. And I’m also aware of the need for discipline, of maintaining safe schools and working with local law enforcement, when it’s required to keep kids safe.”

Special care

Earwood has already been thinking about the special attention Socorro’s schools require, given challenging economic times and the complex demands of state and governmental bodies concerning educational standards.

“First and foremost I want to keep as much money as possible in the classroom,” said Earwood. “We’re all struggling with budgets, given three to four years of cuts. Standards-wise, part of what we’re facing are all the changes in PED. A lot of it’s been positive, but it’s forced a lot of districts to deal with challenges in several key areas. Common Core Standards for one, and what will be the other, evolving criteria as we go along. We need to take a intimate look at that evolving grading system to fully understand it and see how we can reach those goals.”

Family and fun

Sitting at the “M” Mountain Cafe with wife Karen, a shirtsleeved Earwood appeared relaxed and seemed to light up when the discussion turned to his grandchildren — two girls, ages 3 and 7 months, and a boy, 4 years old.

“They’re my pride and joy,” said Randall Earwwod.

The couple have two daughters and a son, with the daughters following mom and dad’s lead. The eldest daughter teaches at the middle school level in New Mexico, and the youngest daughter is “just finishing her elementary education degree in Lubbock and our son is settled in Oklahoma City,” said dad.

Karen Earwood, is looking forward to making new neighbors, and was enthusiastic discussing her shared love of education.

“I love it. I’m looking forward the possibility to pursue it again. It’s my passion,” she said.

Like any married couple, the two have had their challenges.

“He beat me at the chili cook-off in Ojo Caliente,” Karen said. “Vension chili. Got the golden spoon and everything.”

When asked about their joint approach to life, she laughed again. “Well, I’m the funny one!”

Randall Earwood nodded his head and broadly smiled, “She’s right, too.”

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.