Taking The Helm
Dr. Scott Wyndham Begins Avon Schools Superintendent Role
Photography Provided by Avon Community School Corporation
Ever since he was a little boy, Dr. Scott Wyndham has been drawn to the field of education. As a kid, he and his sister frequently played teacher, and when he got to high school, his band director and an English teacher affirmed his love for the profession.
“They nurtured skills within me and challenged me to grow as a person and as a leader,” Wyndham says.
Just as importantly, he saw the positive impact they had on his peers.
Wyndham’s dream came to fruition as he taught social studies before moving into the elementary level to teach as a special education instructor in Brownsburg. Though he loved being in the classroom, he longed to have a more significant impact on what was happening in the district, so he earned his principal and administrative license.
After working as building and district administrator in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, he became the director of special education for Brownsburg Community School Corporation. He then served as the director of finance and operations as well as assistant superintendent for Avon Community School Corporation (ACSC). When Dr. Maggie Hoernemann announced her plan to retire at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year, Wyndham applied for the job and was thrilled to be offered the position.
Wyndham says while district leaders focus on students’ academic achievement, they also offer countless other opportunities for growth.
“We care for the whole child, and as such we have supports in place for mental wellness and social-emotional growth,” Wyndham says. “This is especially important this year, knowing that our kids were home for five months without social interaction.”
To help students have positive experiences as they transition back to school, the staff ensures students have access to counselors and social workers. While such resources were in place in the past, their importance has changed, as has the focus on the current needs of students.
“Their needs are different from when we left school in March, and we are poised as a school district to respond to those needs,” says Wyndham, noting that ACSC is in partnership with Cummins Behavioral Health Systems.
The partnership means students can be referred for outside support if needed.
“Our teachers play a key role in getting our students connected with the right resources,” Wyndham says.
One reason Wyndham appreciates Avon so much is the support he sees within the district.
“It’s been hard as we have reopened schools and not been able to allow visitors and volunteers, because some of our parents and grandparents love being involved and engaged in their student’s education,” he says. “Their desire to be here shows how much they value the schools.”
Wyndham attributes the cohesive nature of the district to the partnerships Hoernemann created and nurtured regularly.
“That’s a big part of Dr. Hoernemann’s legacy,” Wyndham says. “She built such a great relationship with our town, township, library and Chamber of Commerce. My challenge is to build on those relationships.”
Wyndham is involved in various community groups including Kiwanis, the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA advisory board, and Oriole Advocates. He’s also a graduate of Leadership Hendricks County.
“We all have different strengths and skills,” Wyndham says. “It’s powerful to know that there are lots of public servants doing really wonderful things in our community to make it better.”
In August, parents were asked to decide whether to send their child back to school or choose virtual learning at home. Wyndham insists there is no right or wrong answer.
“We’ve been pleased to offer a choice to our families, but we keep telling parents that whatever decision you made for your child, we’ll make sure they have a really good school year,” he says.
While Avon students returned to classrooms in early August, Avon High School students had just a taste of it before temporarily switching gears, first moving to e-learning before pivoting to a modified schedule. Half the students attended in person for two-day blocks while the other half learned remotely at home, and then the groups switched.
On the first day of school, Wyndham visited several schools and saw that students were adhering to mask and social distancing requirements.
“Their parents had done a tremendous job of preparing them,” Wyndham says.
As the school year winds up, Wyndham plans to visit each school to ask staff members about areas they think need some focus. He also plans to schedule monthly student lunches in order to hear student voices on various matters. He’s already been impressed by the way students have engaged with him. For instance, when he went to Avon High School’s cafeteria on the first day of school to see how lunch would work, several kids approached him with thoughts and questions.
“It was neat to see that they were confident and poised to come up and talk about what was on their minds,” Wyndham says.
One big change coming for the next school year is a redistricting of elementary schools, which hasn’t taken place in a decade.
Though redistricting can be a challenge, some schools have grown more than others, and leaders seek to adjust boundaries so that schools are evenly sized.
Avon school leaders also launched an ACSC police department this year, and are eager to make the department a key part of school culture moving forward.
“We want to have conversations about how we can build relationships with our community, with our parents and with our students,” says Wyndham, who has two daughters – Abigail, 15, and Adelyn, 14, both avid volleyball players – with his wife Autumn.
Last spring, just prior to the shutdown, Wyndham and Autumn had been running themselves ragged driving their girls around town.
“It was kind of nice to take a mandatory break from business,” Wyndham says. “That was a time I think I’ll always cherish because we enjoyed more family time in those two months than we had in years.
Wyndham admits that on the first day of school each year, he misses teaching in a classroom.
“I miss getting to see the same students every day and watch their progress throughout the year,” he says. “Though this job is great because I get to interact with 10,000 students.”