Profile: TERESA CHAULK
Community Servant to the Fullest
BY JULI VALENTINE/School Administrator, October 2022
AS A STUDENT IN HIGH SCHOOL,
Teresa Chaulk was self-admittedly a bully.
“I was always the kid that stood up for others — so if you were a bully, I was the bully that bullied you to leave people alone,” says Chaulk, who has been superintendent of Wyoming’s Lincoln County School District 1 for 15 years.
What began as simply sticking up for others blossomed into a deep sense of responsibility to advocate for all students, prompting Chaulk to become a special education teacher.
“I just thought we needed to treat our students with respect and dignity way back then, and so I wanted to be part of making better change,” she says. “Public education is awesome, and it’s for everybody. It needs to be something we can be proud of, and we need to sing its praises more often.”
Despite becoming an administrator some 25 years ago, Chaulk never lost sight of her work supporting students with disabilities. It re-mains part of her job responsibilities today as special education director is one of many unofficial hats she has worn as superintendent of the 590-student Lincoln County district. When the rural district, situated two hours northeast of Salt Lake City, Utah, needed a business manager, Chaulk got a master’s degree in accounting and finance and filled the role.
Doing whatever needs to be done is a hallmark of her superintendency. She tries to teach one course per year at the high school, whether dual-credit physical education, reading intervention or accounting. Increasing course offerings and establishing a stable curricu-lum are some of the things she’s most proud of during her time at Lincoln, which can boast a 100 percent graduation rate.
“Curriculum is a living, breathing document that’s never done — we’re always writing it, reviewing it, aligning it — and I think that’s one of the largest but best hurdles that we’ve overcome,” Chaulk says.
Outside of the classroom, the Missouri native makes sure she remains visible by attending athletic and academic events and visiting classrooms. “I’m not one that you’ll find sitting in my office, hanging out,” she admits. Her presence has contributed to a sense of stability for the community and the schools.
“She is always working to better our community, schools and people around her,” says Shawn Rogers, principal of Kemmerer Junior-Senior High School. “She has made the superintendent position her life. It is more than just a job for her. It is her passion, and she lives it every day. It’s given us some consistency and allowed us to push through some of the challenges and obstacles we’ve had.”
It is Chaulk’s hope that leading by example will influence the actions of staff and the community.
“I have a motto that says that if you work for Lincoln County School District No. 1, you bleed Ranger red and black, and that means that we do everything every day for our kids,” Chaulk says. “It is hard work, but it’s hard work for every person — the superintendent, the custodian, the teacher — and you have to model that expectation.”
Nowhere does Chaulk model her expectations more so than in her own personal growth. She has earned two master’s degrees and is working on a third in school psychology so she can move into that field when she retires from the superintendency.
“It sounds cliché, but I love school, and I love to learn,” Chaulk says. “I believe that being enrolled in the coursework is what holds me accountable to continually be on the cutting edge of what’s going on in education.”
is digital content editor at AASA.
BIO STATS: TERESA CHAULK
superintendent, Lincoln County School District 1, Kemmerer, Wyo.
assistant superintendent of instruction and special education, Lincoln County School District 1
GREATEST INFLUENCE ON CAREER:
Lori Peister modeled strength and courage as a female principal when I was a young teacher and budding administrator. I loved her courage and commitment to students and creating the best environment for them.
BEST PROFESSIONAL DAY:
At the beginning of the pandemic, our district stayed in school two days longer than any other district in Wyoming to teach our students what virtual learning would be like for them at home. We took a stand to ensure education was productive during the time we had to teach remotely.
BOOKS AT BEDSIDE: The 360º Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization
by John C. Maxwell; High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way
by Brendon Burchard; and The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed
by Mark Divine
WHY I’M AN AASA MEMBER:
It’s a wonderful opportunity for collaboration, and it provides numerous opportunities for both professional and personal growth.