USD 410 finds new superintendent in Haven


Steve Noble, currently associate superintendent at Haven, will start his new job as USD 410 superintendent July 1.

The search for a permanent superintendent for Unified School District 410 officially ended Saturday morning when the board of education approved a two-year contract for Steve Noble of Haven by a 7-0 vote.

Currently assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Haven school district, Nobel was chosen from among the three finalists who were invited for on-site interviews and a public reception earlier in the week.

?We interviewed three very good, very qualified candidates,? said Rod Koons, board president. ?Each one brought a different set of dynamics and skills to the table and all had good communication skills.?

The other two candidates were James Kenworthy, superintendent at St. John-Hudson, and Diane Watkins, associate superintendent at Chanute.

After interviewing the candidates and consulting with the administrative team, ?it was pretty clear at that point that Steve was the front runner in everyone?s mind,? Koons said.

?What it got down to was the relationship that we had built, the comfort level that we felt, and the excitement that he brings to the job.?

Professional experience

Noble has been in his current position at Haven since 2003. For two years prior to that, he was principal at Haven Middle and Yoder Charter schools. From 1998 to 2001 he was assistant principal and activities director at Haven High.

A Kiowa native, Noble received his bachelor of science degree in education from Pittsburg State University in 1990.

Following that he taught in Osceola, Mo., was a graduate student and assistant football coach for two years at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, then taught at Great Bend High School and Rose Hill Middle School in Kansas.

Noble earned a master?s degree in education from Eastern Illinois, and is in his second year in a doctoral program through Wichita State.

Excited to come?

Noble, 41, said he and his family were excited to accept the board?s invitation and anticipate the move to Hillsboro in time for his July 1 start.

?Even our kids are excited,? Noble said. ?They wanted to know, ?Daddy, can we move tomorrow???

Wife Gita is a longtime educator, including the past nine years as a middle-school teacher in the Haven district. She also has taught in the Wichita public schools and was dean of students at Wichita Collegiate Middle School for seven years.

They have three daughters: first-grader Eva, 7, and pre?schoolers Ellie, 4, and Emma, 3.

Positive exposure

Noble said being exposed to Hillsboro through mutual participation in the Mid-Central Activities Association prompted him to submit an application for the USD 410 opening.

?Obviously, the reputation of the Hillsboro schools and the community is widespread,? he said. ?The people who make that environment for kids make it all worthwhile.?

Noble said he was impressed with what he saw about the community during his candidate visit.

?The other thing that was very attractive about Hillsboro?that I didn?t realize until I got there?is that it is taking a very aggressive approach to community development,? he said, citing the presence a full-time economic development director, an attractive water park and golf course, industrial and business parks and other amenities.

?There so many thing happening that are unique for small towns,? he said. ?I know they?re not happening everywhere, but they are in Hillsboro. All we can do is hope that the effort that everybody is investing will pay off?and I have no doubt that it will.?

The presence of Tabor College was another attraction, he added.

?Being part of a college community just brings so many advantages, culturally and educationally, for our kids and our community.?

Perceived strengths

Noble said collaboration and communication are two of his strengths as well as administrative priorities.

?The thing I?ve always tried to be cognizant of as a leader is the collaboration with people,? he said.

?I work with people who communicate with people?and of course, in education we?re in the people business.

?Above everything else, that?s what we must keep our mind on,? he added. ?I think that?s what I do.?

Noble described his leadership style as horizontal, not vertical.

?It?s not a top-down leadership style,? he said. ?I?ll be in the classroom, I?ll be with bus drivers, I?ll be with custodians, I?ll be with administration and hopefully with the kids.?

Recruiting assistance

Noble was selected with the help of recruiting specialists from the Kansas Association of School Boards.

?We could have done it ourselves, but we work with (KASB) on a lot on other things and felt their expertise in knowing who was out there, and being able to work through the applications to give us the top three candidates, was pretty valuable for us.

?What it does is save us a lot of leg work and a lot of busy work,? he added. ?It let us concentrate on the three candidates rather than the whole field of 20 or 22 that applied.?

Debt of gratitude

Koons said the board is looking forward to Noble?s arrival, but also feels a debt of gratitude to Doug Huxman, who has served as interim superintendent since Gordon Mohn retired in summer 2007.

?We commend Doug for the job he has done in our district,? Koon said. ?He was able to help us through a time of a lot of transition in our district.

?He came into a situation where a long-term superintendent had left, and stepped into a building project and some other challenges.

?We needed someone with experience,? Koons said. ?He really was the right person at the right time, and has done just a tremendous job for our district.

?Doug?s good work will really allow Steve to excel when he arrives.?

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