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Superintendent finalist also started his education in Jeffco

Jeffco Schools superintendent finalist Daniel McMinimee talks to parents, teachers and students about his background during his first public forum at Wheat Ridge High School.
Jeffco Schools superintendent finalist Daniel McMinimee talks to parents, teachers and students about his background during his first public forum at Wheat Ridge High School.
Lisa Cook

Daniel McMinimee, the Jeffco Schools superintendent finalist, started his education in Jeffco. He began kindergarten at Hackberry Hill Elementary School in Arvada, which he attended through sixth grade.

“I know the power of Jefferson County Schools,” McMinimee told a group of parents, teachers and students during his first public forum at Wheat Ridge High School on May 15. “I know I’m standing here today because of the great work that those teachers did with me at Hackberry Hill Elementary School.”

McMinimee spent about ten minutes telling the crowd about his education and experiences being moving into a one-on-one question and answer session despite protests from the crowd. During his introduction, McMinimee detailed the work he has done as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and district administrator at schools in Colorado and Oregon.

His family moved to Littleton after he finished sixth grade, where he attended Euclid Junior High and Heritage High School. After high school he attended the University of Southern Colorado (now Colorado State University - Pueblo), where he played football.

“I got into education because I love sports. That’s what drove me through high school,” he said. “And I got into education because I want to make a difference for kids and love being part of a team.”

The University of Southern Colorado cut the football program after his junior year, so McMinimee transferred to Adams State University in Alamosa. There he was able continue playing football and finish his degree, a B.A. in K-12 physical education.

McMinimee said he worked as a student teacher in the Cherry Creek school district, and then stayed on as a full-time substitute teacher the next year. This also provided him multiple opportunities to work as a coach at district high schools.

A year later, he started a master’s degree program at Adams State, where he also helped coached the football team. After a year at Adams State he returned to the Denver area to coach football at Fairview High School in Boulder. He also taught P.E. at Nevin Platte Junior High School and coached several sports there while coaching at Fairview.

McMinimee said he and his wife moved to Oregon in the early 1990s after budget cuts forced him out of the Boulder Valley School District. He had contacted a former coach who was now working for Oregon State University, and began working as a graduate assistant coach while pursuing a Masters in Education degree.

While in Oregon, he started working as a half-time at Silverton High School, teaching personal finance and American government, and coaching in the evenings. He worked a second job as a physical education teacher at a Salem, Ore. elementary school, and split his day driving between the two schools.

Two years later he secured a full-time P. E. teacher slot at an elementary school in Salem, and worked that job while coaching college football in the evening. He also completed the basic and standard Administrator Licensure Program at Portland State University in Salem.

McMinimee told the crowd he then spent three years working as an assistant principal at Sprague High School in Salem before accepting a position as the Athletic Director at a rival school, South Salem High School. He returned to Sprague High School as its principal for two years before returning to Colorado to accept a position as the principal of Rock Canyon High School in Douglas County.

He spent five years as principal there before moving to an administrative position. As a Director of Schools, he served as a director for the Ponderosa Feeder Area, a coordinator of the College Ready Dual Credit program, director of district career and technical education, and director of high school education. He said that Douglas County’s dual credit program operated differently than Jeffco’s does, and that he used the program to try to reduce remediation rates in the district.

In 2010 he was appointed to his current position, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education. “I’ve taught everything from kindergarten to college classes,” McMinimee told Thursday’s forum audience.

Despite his work in Douglas County, McMinimee’s two children have attended Jeffco Schools since returning to Colorado. His son graduated from Columbine High School last year, and his daughter will graduate from Chatfield High School this month. He spoke highly of their experiences in the district.

“My kids have had an absolutely fabulous experience in Jeffco Schools, and that was one of the reasons that made me want to apply for this job,” he said. Asked what he thinks is important, he told the crowd, “At the end of the day what I believe in is having powerful relationships, having teams, high achievement with kids, transparency.”

Jeffco’s most recent superintendent, Cindy Stevenson, also began her education in Jeffco Schools as a kindergartner. Stevenson remained in Jeffco Schools through her high school graduation, and then returned to teach in Jeffco after college. She remains the only Jeffco Schools graduate to serve as superintendent in the district.

McMinimee also spoke at a second forum held on May 19 at Carmody Middle School in Lakewood. Currently, no other public events have been scheduled.

The Jeffco School Board has scheduled a special meeting on May 27 regarding the appointment of a new superintendent. As of Monday evening, no public comment was listed on the agenda, nor was a contract attached to the agenda item.

Board member Lesley Dahlkemper released an email she sent to her fellow board members strongly recommmending that public comment be added to the May 27 agenda. McMinimee was announced as the sole finalist of a nationwide search on May 10 and there have been no board meetings with a public comment session since the announcement was made. Dahlkemper also requested ample time to review the contract, which she has not yet received, before the May 27 meeting.

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