?He was exactly right,? Noble said a little more than two weeks into his new role as superintendent of USD 410. ?There?s a lot going on in this district, and we?re finding there?s a lot going on in this community?which is really a great, great thing. But it?s a lot to balance.?
Noble comes to USD 410 and Hillsboro with wife Gita and their three young daughters after working 11 years in the Haven school district. His most recent position was as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Noble described his family?s transition to Hillsboro as ?unbelievably positive.?
?The things Hillsboro offers our family are the things we were specifically looking for when we were wanting to settle into a community,? he said. ?We had great jobs and a great school district. It was going to take a very special and unique place for us to leave our situation.
?We identified Hillsboro as one of those places,? he added. ?That conviction strengthened when we interviewed and met the people here, and since we arrived it?s only gotten stronger.?
Professionally, Noble said he felt he was well prepared to step into his assignment. He credited frequent communication with interim superintendent Doug Huxman, board members and office staff between his hiring in February and beginning the job July 1.
?On occasion, about every other Friday, I?d call Doug and we?d visit on the phone and just catch up,? Noble said. ?He was always really good about talking to me about these kinds of things. That was really positive.?
Noble also attended meetings in spring when Huxman and the board were working through more than $500,000 in budget cuts because of decreases in state aid.
As a result of that work, Noble said he and the board won?t need to make additional cuts as the 2009-10 budget nears final preparation.
Noble said the only surprise he?s encountered so far has been the amount of his time the stadium project in partnership with Tabor College has required. He estimated about half of every day so far has been taken up with it in one form or another.
?That project is well on its way to completion,? he said. ?But in these final weeks, many of those little painstaking decisions (about project details) are needed. These are the decisions, that if we don?t make them correctly now, can really turn out poorly.?
Beyond the stadium issue, Noble said he has begun to pursue what he considers to be his most important job during the first 12 months at the helm.
?I want to do a lot of listening,? he said. ?That doesn?t mean I?m not going to act on anything, but I need to listen to people and understand what Hillsboro and USD 410 are all about.?
He said he also wants to see the district?literally.
?I want to drive the district,? Noble said. ?I want to know where our people live, where our families live, where our kids live, where our patrons live. I want to see the boundaries and to understand where they?re all coming from. I can look at it on a map, but I want to I go out and see where they are. That?s important to me.?
Noble has also been meeting with regularly building principals, challenging each one to identify one thing they want to make as their priority for the coming school year.
?In education, teachers and administrators?all of us?tend to get overwhelmed with all of the initiatives, changes and mandates that come at us,? he said. ?So I?ve asked them to step back and think of one thing they?re going to do better than anyone else in the state of Kansas. What is their gift to this district??
Those single goals will become the focus of discussion as faculty return for the new year.
Looking long term
Away from the office, Noble and his family are making renting their first home in Hillsboro (202 S. Wilson), but have plans either to buy or build a home in the near future.
?Our goal is to be here to watch our kids grow up,? Noble said. ?We?re not movers. I spent 11 years in the Haven district, my wife spent nine years there and then seven before that at (Wichita) Collegiate as dean of students.
?We don?t jump around. We want settle in and stay. Hopefully that work.?
Gita, with an strong resume in education, would be open to a part-time job in education that complements the daughters? schedules. But until such an opportunity arises, she plan to join the time with the girls.
Daughter Eva, 7, will be a second-grader this fall, but Ellie, 5, will be in kindergarten half a day and Emma, who will turn 4 in August, will be in preschool for part of the day.
Steve said he and Gita plan to be active in their new community.
?My wife and I are both what I would consider to be outgoing people?my wife even more than I,? he said. ?In fact, she has been out in the community so much already and just loves it.?
Steve Noble said he anticipates representing USD 410 in the Chamber of Commerce, and feels civic and church organizations and causes are important, too.
As part of his role, and with his wife?s encouragement, Noble said he is committed to attending every home event on the USD 410 calendar?to that extent that it?s physically possible to do so.
?Sometimes I can?t because there will be too many things going on at once,? he said. ?I just think that?s important.?
Noble said he and Gita have been impressed with the amenities that Hillsboro offers as a small town?including the new aquatic center, the golf course and park, and the active business district.
?All those things are important,? he said. ?Some small communities are losing that.?
Noble said the family feels Hillsboro has everything it?s looking for in a home town.
?Both of us want to work where we live, live where we worship, and worship where we play?this community offers that whole package,? he said.
?We?ve done the commuting thing before and we don?t want to do it again.?