First black superintendent for Salt Lake School District


Timothy Gadson III was unanimously voted in by the Salt Lake City Board of Education Tuesday, February 23 to head as superintendent for Salt Lake City School District (SLSD). Gadson will be the first black superintendent leading a Utah school district.

Gadson was picked from a pool of three finalists, the other two candidates being Wendy González, superintendent of Page County Public Schools in Virginia, and Jharrett Bryantt, an executive leader in the Houston Independent School District.

Originally an associate superintendent of high schools in Minnesota, Gadson’s main priority is students in need.

“I’m looking for a district that actually needs me, not one that just needs a superintendent,” Gadson stated in an interview with Deseret News. “When I looked at some of the issues and what’s happening in Salt Lake City, I thought that I was the person that the district was calling and I thought I could fill that need.”

Gadson says his plans are to “listen and learn,” focusing on the strengths of the district by “strengthening what needs to be strengthened and getting rid of those things that are ineffective and drain on resources so that we can bring in other things that will be more of a support for our students.”

One of those plans is to strengthen the bonds between staff and students to personalize the school experience. Gadson aims to speak with the boards and staff of the district, his main priorities focused on the students and their wellbeing by bringing in more therapists and training teachers to recognize signs of mental illness inside of their classrooms.

“That’s a model that we have in my current district,” Gadson explained, “where students are able to see a therapist on the school campus during the school day and receive therapeutic treatment.”

He is dedicated to his new role, taking the unanimous decision as a vote of confidence, proving this when he tuned into the Salt Lake City Board meeting via the internet while teaching a graduate-level course on leadership.

Gadson’s aspiration has always been to be a superintendent, and finally, his wish is coming true from hard work and dedication.