By Chase Kamp
The Superior Unified School District accepted the resignation of 11-year Superintendent Pete Guzman at its regular meeting on Apr. 3, 2013. Guzman has also served a dual role as principal at the Superior schools for the last four years.
The Superior High robotics club made a presentation to the governing board, one of many new achievements Guzman said he was proud to see as he departed office.
“Our [robotics] students have been very successful in competition with other schools,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’ve been the smallest school but are consistently competitive with schools five times bigger than we are.”
He’s also been proud of the Career Technical Education classes, among them the FFCLA club, which also competes across the state. “Again, we have kids that make it to nationals,” Guzman said. “We are probably the only school in the Copper Corridor that brings back gold medals from national competitions.”
Guzman was also proud to oversee the raising of the base salary district-wide. “It was a very low $24,000 a year when I first came here,” he said. “It’s not where it should be, but at least it’s now up to $33,000 a year and it’s competitive.”
At JFK Elementary, the Mac-Ro math program started with the help of Resolution Copper, and Guzman said improvements have led to the program to run in grades one through six.
The installation of solar panels and $100,000 worth of improvements to the high school building are also major steps. “That will save the district a tremendous amount of money in the future,” he said.
Guzman said he will continue work as superintendent of Copper Valley Institute of Technology and spend a little more time at home.
He said the normal time that a superintendent stays in a district is two to three years. “I’ve worked with 14 different governing board members,” he said. “It’s all been good and I believe the success we’ve had here is because of them. I just think it’s time to do something else.”
However, his drive to teach has not faltered at all in that time. “In the morning, I still find myself highly motivated to continue working with kids,” he said. “Until that feeling disappears, I will continue to work.”
He was grateful to the teachers, staff, governing board, community members and the students. “They’ve made me feel like family here,” he said. “I’m looking at kids in high school who I remember very well when they were in kindergarten. It’s just amazing the changes that I’ve seen.”
Guzman spent two years studying at Phoenix College before he got his bachelors masters at NAU. He could easily recall what inspired him to become an educator.
“I can remember the moment exactly,” he said. “I was in sixth grade. I was highly motivated by a P.E. teacher who was also the baseball coach. I saw that he really enjoyed what he was doing. I asked him if he liked what he was doing. He said, ‘I get to do what I’m doing here and they call it work, and they pay me,’” he laughed.