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Board selects new leader of Utah’s largest school district

SHARE Board selects new leader of Utah’s largest school district

Shane Farnsworth was selected Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, to be the new superintendent of the Alpine School District, effective July 1, 2021.

Alpine School District

AMERICAN FORK — Shane Farnsworth was appointed superintendent of the Alpine School District by a 7-0 vote of the board of education Tuesday.

Farnsworth, who has spent his entire career with Alpine District, is assistant superintendent of operations. The district serves some 82,000 students and employs some 9,000 educators and staff and is the state’s largest.

Farnsworth will take the reins on July 1, 2021, succeeding Superintendent Sam Jarman, who is retiring.

Jarman announced his plans to retire shortly after the start of the school year. He has worked in education for 35 years and has been Alpine District superintendent for the past six years.

Farnsworth has 22 years of experience in the district as a classroom teacher, principal and district administrator over secondary schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree in classical studies and his master’s and doctorate of education degrees in educational leadership from Brigham Young University.

Farnsworth and his wife, Meri Ann Farnsworth, are the parents of six children, all of whom have attended or currently attend schools in the Alpine School District. The Farnsworth family resides in American Fork.

“My whole career has been in the Alpine School District. We live here in the community and care deeply about the education of all children and our children,” he said.

Farnsworth said it meant a lot to him for the board of education to approve his appointment by unanimous vote.

“It really gives me a sense of trust, sense of stewardship, responsibility and also an appreciation for the united board. Working together with the united board allows the district to accomplish some amazing outcomes,” he said.

Farnsworth’s appointment comes at a time when educators have been spread thin as they address in-classroom learning and help meet needs of students who are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure or isolation due to illness and at some schools, shifts to online learning.

“It is a challenging time but in challenging times, people rise to the occasion. You see commitment. You see devotion. You see care on the part of our teachers. It really has just been amazing to see how much students depend upon their teachers, and how much those teachers depend upon those students for that connection. So I think we’re learning lessons through this pandemic that will help us be better educators. I think the opportunity now is to leverage these experiences as a catalyst to help us improve,” he said.

Farnsworth’s doctoral studies focused on trust relationships between teachers and administrators. His research was published in the National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin journal in September 2019.

He has also been an adjunct professor at BYU and Southern Utah University in leadership preparation programs. Farnsworth has chaired the Utah School Accreditation Council and served for several years as a lead evaluator of schools throughout Utah. 

Twenty-eight community members, including teachers, parents, government officials, school administrators, support professionals, city leaders and others screened all candidates’ credentials and applications and recommended to the school board names of people to be interviewed.

The board selected finalists and conducted a second round of interviews to select the finalist.

“As a board of education, we were pleased and amazed by the caliber of highly qualified applicants from across the state, from multiple districts, and from within the district who applied. The selection process was not easy. It has been one of the most rigorous endeavors we’ve faced,” board president Scott Carlson said in a statement.