The recipient of the Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Administration is Kyle Reynolds, superintendent of Woodward Public Schools. The Woodward native was named superintendent of his alma mater in 2014 and has focused his tenure on helping build bridges out of adversity and creating solutions for all students to excel in academics and in life.
“My job is to serve all kids, and one of my most frequently repeated mantras is ‘All means all,’” Reynolds said. “Our team works every day to build bridges that will connect to our most needy students. … We must build bridges to those who are hungry, those whose home lives lack stability and support, and those who have suffered adversities most of us cannot fathom.”
Recognizing the number of students who faced food insecurity and lacked after-school care, Reynolds partnered with district supporter Bruce Benbrook to fund Boomer ExSTREAM, an after-school program centered on hands-on activities in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math (STREAM). Due to its success, the district received two $1.3 million federal grants to sustain the program.
Seeking solutions to address dropout rates and a skills gap in the region’s career market, Reynolds partnered with High Plains Technology Center to create the Technical Applications Program (TAP), which provides electives to introduce middle schoolers to technical skills and trades. The program seeks to spark students’ interests in careers and establish a foundation for post-secondary opportunities.
Recognizing the high percentage of rural students dealing with mental health issues and traumatic experiences, Reynolds and his team partnered with the State Department of Education to receive a multimillion-dollar Project AWARE grant. The grant provided for additional school counselors and trained every teacher in mental health first-aid.
Reynolds also worked with the Office of Juvenile Affairs and Western Plains Youth and Family Services to create COPE: Community Outreach Prevention and Education. Juvenile offenders who would have previously been suspended from school are now able to continue their education while receiving counseling and other services to address their issues.
“Kyle Reynolds is an innovator, problem solver, visionary and a man who always leads with the courage of his convictions,” said Kevin Evans, executive director of the Western Plains Youth and Family Services. “As superintendent, his leadership has impacted not only the quality of education for our students, but also the quality of their health and well-being.”