South Summit School District Superintendent Barry Walker, right, announced his retirement in February. A search for his replacement began, and Dr. Shad E.
South Summit School District Superintendent Barry Walker, right, announced his retirement in February. A search for his replacement began, and Dr. Shad E. Sorenson, left, was selected. His contract begins July 1. Alexandria Gonzalez/Park Record.
After seven years under the guidance of Superintendent Barry Walker, the South Summit School District Board of Education named Walker's replacement: Dr. Shad E. Sorenson.

Like Walker, Sorenson is a Kamas native and a graduate of South Summit High School. Upon graduation, he received his bachelor's degree in business management from Utah Valley State College, a master's degree in human resources and student development from Utah State University and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Utah.

"My family jokes about how I've been a student for a long, long time," he said. "I just have a passion for education."

Sorenson has worked for Utah Valley University for 16 years and is currently the Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Life. He also began his first term as a member of the Wasatch County School Board in January of last year and will soon be resigning his post.

At UVU, Sorenson is actively involved in the K-16 Alliance, which focuses on creating successful transitions from K-12 to higher education in school districts that work with UVU. Those schools include Alpine, Provo, Park City, North Summit and South Summit.

"We've looked at issues of math, because having students quantitatively ready to transition has been huge. We've also looked at counseling networks," he said. "Because I've been working in K-12 with the K-16 Alliance, [becoming superintendent] just seemed like a really natural fit."

He credits the suggestion and the idea to apply for the position of superintendent to his friends and colleagues. When Walker announced his retirement, Sorenson said he received several phone calls and text messages encouraging him to apply. After a couple of weeks, he said, he was convinced he should.

Now that he will be taking over for Walker in July, Sorenson is hoping to put a strategic plan for the district in place after meeting and talking with the faculty, staff, school board and community.

"I think it's so important to involve the community and look at these questions: 'where do we want to be in five years? Where do we want to be in 10 years?'" he said. "Then we identify that road map and start looking at the current curriculum, educational tools and devices we use, everything we have in place that will help us get there and everything that might need to be adjusted."

A citizen's committee, including about 12 people from the community, helped make the selection. Employees from the district were also invited to be part of the committee. Each applicant received a score that was tallied and ranked, and the school board interviewed the top four candidates.

"We were impressed with the number of quality applicants and were very pleased by the level of community involvement throughout the process," said South Summit School Board President Craig Hicken.

Superintendent Walker announced Sorenson as his successor at the school board meeting Thursday night and said he couldn't be happier with his replacement.

Sorenson's contract begins in July, and he said he and his wife are excited to move their family from Midway back to where he grew up. He has two sons and two daughters that will all become students in the South Summit School District, and he said he is happy they will be a part of the district that helped shape him.

"This just felt like the right opportunity for me to work with the outstanding faculty and staff," he said. "This is kind of coming back home for me and having an opportunity to pay the school district back for the many excellent opportunities I had and hopefully move things forward."