New Tonto Basin Superintendent Keith Greer hopes to start a tradition the week before school — a bar-b-que at the Browns’ ranch.
Greer met the Browns on July 12 at an event they hosted to introduce him and the new principal, Marilyn Simmons, to the students, their families and residents of Tonto Basin.
“The initial goal of the retreat was to meet the community and we wanted parents to have a dialog with each other,” said Greer. “We had close to 300 children, staff, grandparents and parents attend. It was a great event. I hope to start a tradition.”
Simmons commented, “Everyone had fun on the hayride, eating a great meal of BBQ, cowboy beans and other great foods, besides the chocolate brownies. If anyone was truly interested in finding out more about the administration and our staff, the opportunity was there. Many people took advantage of doing just that. We look forward to a great school year!”
Last year, the Tonto Basin School Board decided to separate the principal’s duties from the superintendent’s job. The board decided it wants the principal hands-on at the school site, while the superintendent works offsite implementing state directives and handling budget issues, almost like a consultant.
Greer says the superintendent job fits him perfectly. He has had a varied career that includes stints as a financial advisor, a basketball coach and principal at Casa Grande. He is now a partner in The Principal’s Office, LLC. He advises districts on how to improve school test scores, discipline and graduation rates.
He is the lead faculty chair at the University of Phoenix.
Greer also has a personal connection with Tonto Basin. He passed by the school when he traveled from Casa Grande to Rim Country to visit his son who worked as a Hot Shot.
“For years ... I used to pass by the school,” said Greer. “I would say to myself, ‘Isn’t that a quaint little school?’ After a couple of years of doing that, I decided that if something came up I would look at it.”
He said his references often say he is a master at building a community.
“We’ve had a nice combination of career decisions that culminated to bring me to this point,” he said.
Simmons brings many years of experience to the table.
She has worked as a teacher for nine years in subjects as diverse as music, P.E. and working with at-risk students.
She has been an administrator for 14 years, in both Arizona and North Dakota.
Most impressive of all, she has been a parent to five children, ages 21 to 35.
“My husband, Ken, and I ... are fortunate that all are healthy, college grads and gainfully employed,” she said.
She loves the Tonto Basin area. Her family was first introduced to the community when she drove back and forth from Phoenix to Pinetop while she worked at Cibecue Arizona School.
“We are happy to be here and will look forward to a great school year with Tonto Basin School District,” she said.
Tonto Basin started school on Wednesday, July 24.
Greer said 60 students came to school. He and Simmons made sure every family that arrived had a staff member greet them.
“Teachers and support staff say this is the most parents they have seen at the first day of school in years,” he said.