Former geologist gunning for superintendent seat |

Former geologist gunning for superintendent seat

Being involved in two helicopter crashes was enough to make Ken Ladouceur decide to give up the oil and gas trade and begin teaching.

The Roaring Fork School District superintendent candidate said he was more of a swashbuckling Indiana Jones character than a coal geologist working for PetroCanada.

He was in his early 20s, and his job entailed traveling to remote and bitter cold places like Ellesmere Island and even the North Pole.

After the second helicopter crashed, Ladouceur, 48, said, “I looked at my wife and said if we want to have kids and a family, we need to find a new line of work.”

He said he always saw himself as a teacher helping others, he said.

His career switch brought him into a rural Saskatchewan classroom, where he taught math and physics. He soon found his way into school administration, and he later became superintendent of the Prairie West School Division #75 in Swift Current, a town of about 15,000 people in southern Saskatchewan, Canada.

If you think RFSD buses drive far and wide to pick up kids, think again.

In Swift Current, Ladouceur said, “It was 80 bus routes and 10,000 miles a day. Incredible distances.”

The sprawling rural plains district included about a dozen schools, he said.

One thing he learned in the classroom and later applied to administration is the idea that the quality of an organization’s productivity is based entirely on relationships. He said he discovered that the relationships he was able to build with his students could be applied to an entire school.

The next logical step was to take his philosophy to the entire school district, even though he would have less immediate impact on students.

In a “relationship-driven culture,” he said, “you could improve the situation for others by simply changing the nature of the school.”

Ladouceur spent a decade in Swift Current before jumping the border to Colorado about five years ago. Today, he serves as the superintendent of Gilpin County School District Re-1 in Black Hawk.

He said he’s focused his career on leadership, and recently, ethical leadership, a subject on which he has given presentations for the Colorado Association of School Boards.

With a Ph.D. in education administration, Ladouceur said his passion is educating kids, providing them with as many options as possible by the time they graduate from high school.

Schools should keep expectations high for all students, regardless of background, he said. Over the last half century, he said, expectations for minority students have remained flat.

But English language learners and other students should be given just as much attention as any other student would be given. To make sure every student succeeds, he said, it takes “dedication and focusing on the issue itself, unrelenting.”

Ladouceur called RFSD “an exciting place.”

“It provides you with enough opportunity to truly develop a world-class education system,” he said.

Ladouceur is married to his wife Marlene, and has two twin daughters, Anne and Sarah, who are both studying chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520

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