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Townsley departs SCSD for UNI role

District announces replacement, changes in scope

SOLON– The Solon Community School District Board of Education accepted the resignation of Matt Townsley, Director of Instruction/Technology and former math teacher at the regularly scheduled April 9 meeting.
After 14 years with the Solon School district in which he proved instrumental in many key reforms, Townsley will head this fall to the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where he has accepted a teaching position in the Leadership Department. Townsley will instruct future principals and superintendents.
Townsley, originally from Independence, graduated from Wartburg College in 2004, and began his career shortly after with the Solon school district.
A math teacher in the school system for six years and administrator for the next eight, Townsley’s time in the district was a time of massive change, including numerous additions and improvements. Many of the school’s improvements can be traced back to Townsley.
“Standards-based grading was something that he championed years ago,” said Solon Superintendent Davis +, noting that Townsley was one of the first in the state to push for it. When the district did make the switch, Townsley led the way to help with the update.
Townsley also helped form the school’s Talented and Gifted Program into what it is today, and set up a video surveillance system at Spartan Stadium.
In 2012, he was named Administrator of the Year by Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC). The award is given to a K-12 administrator or technology director who shows leadership in integrating technology in their school or district.
When Townsley started a doctorate program four years ago, he started thinking about his next step in his career. While in the program, he took on a role as adjunct instructor for Drake University.
“I taught some future principals, and future superintendents, and kind of got a little taste for what that looks like on the teaching side of things,” Townsley said.
The opportunity at Drake proved to be an audition of sorts.
When the position at UNI opened up, a professor from Drake called Townsley to tell him about it, encouraging him to pursue it.
Townsley and his wife, Cassy, discussed the position, and what it would mean for their family. The pair have three young boys ages 6, 5, and not yet 1, and they decided a change now would have minimal impact on the young children.
“We decided if we were going to do it, now’s the time to do it,” said Townsley.
“Nothing Matt does is on a whim,” Eidahl said. “We talked a little about it. And I encouraged him to just go find out what it’s all about. And I think through the process, he realized that was the next chapter for him, professionally.”
When Townsley told Eidahl he’d been offered the job, “We actually sat down as an administrative team, and included Matt in on it, because nobody knows the job better than Matt,” the superintendent said.
It was decided the job description and title would be revised. The district would now refer to the position as the Director of Teaching and Learning.
Townsley said he is excited to begin his new chapter in Cedar Falls, and hopes to have a head start because “I’m familiar with the program.”
Drake and UNI produce the majority of the school administrators, principals and superintendents in the state, Townsley stated, “so I think that they’re very well-respected for their administrative prep program.”
Excited as he is to get started, Townsley was quick to note the significance of what he would be leaving.
“Solon has been my only home as far as teaching and administration goes,” he said. “So it will forever be my education home.
“I plan on coming back and visiting,” he added. “Most of all, I’m going to miss just the work that we have done collaboratively together.”
Eidahl announced Friday, Apr. 27 that Townsley’s replacement had been selected.
From 38 applications from across the state, Solon local Josh Lyons was named the new Director of Teaching and Learning, a slight tweak in both title and scope of the position Townsley vacated.
“We are excited about Josh’s skill set and the knowledge he will contribute to our district,” Eidahl said.
“He is already familiar with our district as he has supported many of our initiatives from his current position as a Grant Wood AEA (Area Education Agency) Regional Director. He is a proven, collaborative leader who values and builds great relationships,” he said.
Eidahl also noted that Lyons has been heavily invested in the district for several years, both professionally and personally.
Lyons and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Camden and Kerrigan, who attend Solon schools. Michelle is a music teacher at Lakeview Elementary.
Eidahl said as the focus turns to the 2018-19 school year, the district will begin to address “our advanced learners,” and that Lyons will lead the charge.