Yavapai Co. superintendent, state board president hailed as educator above all else

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Steve King, left, says that Arizona is “lucky to have” Tim Carter, right, as president of the state’s Board of Education. (Photo by Bill Helm)

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Steve King, left, says that Arizona is “lucky to have” Tim Carter, right, as president of the state’s Board of Education. (Photo by Bill Helm)

VERDE VALLEY – Verde Valley school leaders celebrate Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter’s leadership role as president of the state Board of Education because they know he gets it — education is too important to spend all the time quarreling and no time finding solutions.

They, too, praise him for his ability to collaborate with even those who share a different opinion or philosophy.

“In terms of the attributes you want in that position, Tim has them all,” said Frank Vander Horst, board president with Valley Academy for Career and Technical Education.

“What Tim does is he listens to the problems, figures out how to solve them, then we implement – and we serve,” said Vander Horst, who also works for Carter as E-Rate Manager for the Yavapai County Education Service Agency. “That’s the kind of thinker he is. I’ve worked with him and I’ve worked for him. I have a great deal of respect for him.”

The state board is the policy making arm of the state Department of Education, and its role in past years has been marked with political machinations and controversy. The Republican educator, though, has maintained since his appointment in 2015 — he was not initially approved by the Senate due to political differences with one of its leaders — his sole goal is working to make sound education policy for all students across the state.

According to Danny Brown, superintendent at Clarkdale-Jerome School District, Carter has “always been responsive and is a great communicator.”

“He has a tremendous knowledge base and has always offered an answer or steered me to the right people to find answers to my questions,” says Brown, formerly the director of Federal Programs and School Improvement at Humboldt Unified School District. “He has and will continue to be and advocate and spokesperson in representing the districts in Yavapai County.”

Educators in Arizona – and especially in Yavapai County – are “lucky to have him in the positions he is in,” said Steve King, superintendent at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

“Tim Carter has been a source of wise counsel for me over the years, both personally and professionally,” King said. “I admire and respect what he does for our kids, and who he is as a person.”

No stranger to government, the four-decade education now in his fourth elected term as the Yavapai County Schools superintendent is also an astute politician, said fellow education leaders. He knows how to navigate politics to get things done, they said.

“Tim Carter has dedicated his career to supporting students in Arizona,” said Beaver Creek School District Superintendent Karin Ward. “He understands the balance between rural and urban education. His voice as Board President will serve all of Arizona children.”

In his career, Carter has earned many leadership accolades — in 2003 he was named Arizona School Administrator of the Year, in 2010 he was honored by Capitol Times as Educational Leader of the Year for Public Policy and in 2013 and 2014 was honored as the outstanding JTED/CTE Policy Maker of the Year. But Carter said that does not mean he is above criticism. He said he knows not all state board decisions will be applauded.

With the diversity of the state, and all of the different types of schools that exist here, Carter admits the highly controversial A-F grading plan for all district and charter schools across the state that is expected to be unveiled later this month has proved a daunting task.

“No matter what we do no one will be happy with the final product,” Carter said. The good news is that Carter said he sees the board building bridges within the state educational arena so that meaningful work can be done to benefit all the state’s children.

“Everyone has a stake in what happens, and what does not happen,” he concluded.

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