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Candidates for GFPS Superintendent meet the public

Heather Hoyer and Steven Mayhue
Posted at 5:18 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 16:57:56-05

GREAT FALLS — From educational challenges to leadership styles, candidates for the Great Falls Public School Superintendent position shared their vision with the public during a meet and greet session on Wednesday night.

Heather Hoyer and Steven Mayhue spent part of their Valentine’s Day making their cases for the job.

Hoyer is a familiar face in the district. According to a biography from the Montana School Boards Association, she has served as the Executive Director of Student Achievement since July 2019, but has been with Great Falls Public Schools since 1996. Other positions she held in the District include serving as a Principal at Great Falls High for four years, an Assistant Principal at Great Falls High for seven years, an Administrative Intern for one year, and a Science Teacher at Paris Gibson Middle School, East Middle School and Great Falls High for 11 years. Prior to her employment with GFPS, Hoyer worked as a teacher for the White Pine County School District in Ely, Nevada, and as a Dual Credit Instructor for Northern Nevada Community College, now Great Basin College. Hoyer has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Science Education in the subjects of Broadfield Science and Chemistry. Hoyer says she understands what students, parents and the community is about.

Heather Hoyer

“I understand our teachers, I was one. I understand our coaches, I was one,” said Hoyer. “I understand our administrative interns, our AP’s, our principals, and our executive directors. I believe in every aspect that the school district does and for our community.”

Mayhue has been the Superintendent of Schools in Froid since August of 2023. The Montana School Boards Association says Mayhue previously served as the District Assessment and Curriculum Director for Hardin Public Schools for one year, Assistant Principal with Sheridan School District No. 2 in Sheridan, Wyoming for one year, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director in Evergreen Elementary School District in Kalispell for three years, Math Teacher in the South Albany School District, Albany, Oregon for two years, and a teacher, coach, Summer School Principal and District Mentor with Natrona County School District No. 1 in Casper, Wyoming for 21 years. Mayhue has finished the required coursework for a Montana Superintendent endorsement and is awaiting transcripts to get the official endorsement from OPI. He has obtained his K-12 Principal Endorsement from the University of Wyoming, and a Master of Arts Degree in Teaching from Grand Canyon University in Arizona.

Steven Mayhue

“I come with an extensive background with at risk students. I come with an extensive background with International Baccalaureate or AP students,” said Mayhue. “I have a background in coaching, in athletics. I have a very well-rounded background where I feel like I can come in and continue the tradition that's gone on here.”

Both candidates said their leadership style is one of collaboration.

“I try to get as much information out front as possible. I communicate thoroughly,” said Mayhue. “I think it's very important that everyone knows your expectations and what the what our outcome is going to necessarily look like. But what we're shooting for.”

“I like to bring people to the table and the more voices in the more viewpoints that we have at the table, the better it makes us stronger and it better reflects what our school is really like and what our community is really like,” said Hoyer.

When it comes to challenges facing the district, both agree that recruitment and retention top of the list.

Hoyer says its imperative the district continues its innovative strategies.

“Great Falls is known across the state as being an innovative district that helps us fiscally, but it also helps us provide opportunities to students and families that just normally wouldn't be possible,” said Hoyer.

Mayhue says interfacing and reaching every student is important.

“When you look at things like dropout rate, you look at math and reading scores, I don't think it's directly related to the district, but I think it's nationally and I think we tackle those,” said Mayhue.

Neither candidate foresees making major changes if offered the position. But they are open to modifying the way things are done.

Mayhue believes if something is not broken, there is no need to fix it.

“Great Falls is an amazing school district. I think evolution, I think innovative ways to approach things, maybe having a different look at things is critical,” said Mayhue. “But change, I just don't see that.”

Hoyer says she’s not the type to empty things out and start from scratch.

“We have some really good things going, but we're also human and there are things that we can do better,” said Hoyer. “So, we'll be working collectively with the teachers and the community to find out what are those things that they want to see improvements made on and how do we put pieces and action plans in place to be sure that we can meet those needs.”

On Thursday, the candidates held comprehensive interviews with the board. Those results will be evaluated over the weekend. On Tuesday, the board hope to announce its selection. The successful candidate will oversee a district with a 100-million-dollar budget, 10-thousand students, and 750 employees.

“We’re looking for somebody who has a management skills, somebody who can deal effectively in sharing the message with our public and most of all, somebody who's passionate about education and our students,” said GFPS Bord of Trustees Chairman Gordon Johnson.

The district has been looking for a replacement since Tom Moore announced his retirement last year, effective at the end of this school year.