2012 Citizen of the Year - - Dr. Virginia Moon

When Broken Bow’s Superintendent of Schools resigned in May 2010, the school board faced the tough challenge of trying to find a replacement on short notice. That late in the year is not a good time to begin a search for a school superintendent for the fall, so the board - with the help of the Nebraska Association of School Boards - made the decision to hire an interim superintendent for one year, to give them more time to conduct a proper search for a full time administrator. In July, 2010, Dr. Virginia Moon was hired by the board as interim superintendent on a one-year contract. However, it did not take long for the board and the rest of the community to realize the district had gotten much more than they bargained for. It was apparent to most everyone in the room of her first school board meeting at the helm, that Dr. Moon had done her homework. She had obviously educated herself well on our school district, both its positives and its challenges. After retiring as superintendent of Ralston Public Schools in 2009, Dr. Moon served as a consultant for Ray & Associates of Omaha until she was hired by the Broken Bow school district. She made such a positive impression during her first year at Broken Bow she was offered a second year contract as interim superintendent in June 2011, which she accepted. “This was an extremely competitive year, with so many retiring superintendents across the state,” Dr. Moon said at the February 2011 board meeting. “My decision to stay allows the board another year to continue the search and assures them that they can be confident in their selection of a long-term superintendent. I believe this is the right decision at this point for me, the board and the community.” “Dr. Moon has definitely been the right person, in the right place, at the right time for our school and community,” says Broken Bow school board president Michelle Zlomke. “She brought skills and experiences that enabled her to promote unity and encourage productive discussions about long-term plans for our schools.” The influence Dr. Moon has had on both the school district and the community became even more apparent when the search intensified for a new superintendent. At the December 2011 school board meeting, Marcia Herring with NASB told the board she has heard nothing but positive comments from both the staff and community regarding Dr. Moon. “They would really like you to hire another Dr. Moon,” Herring told the board. “In spite of her temporary role, Dr. Moon has managed to become part of the fabric of our community,” says Zlomke. “She splits her time between Broken Bow and her Omaha home, but everyone still seems to know who she is and how much she cares about the children and the people of Broken Bow.” Dr. Moon worked very closely with the school and community during the bond issue, facilitating a number of meetings on the issue. “A big part of the superintendent’s job is creating that comfort and confidence, by explaining our mission and budget,” says Dr. Moon. “And to help the community know that the school understands its responsibilities to prepare students for the world, in a safe environment, and do that in a fiscally responsible way.” Zlomke says creating that comfort and confidence is something Dr. Moon does very well. “She has a no-nonsense approach when it comes to facing challenges. She’s the kind of person who believes that the information and facts speak for themselves and don’t need any defense. And then she is willing to allow people to make their decisions based on that information.” While devoting herself to students, staff and community members of the Broken Bow school district, Dr. Moon still maintained a home in Omaha and responsibilities there. Those include a business interest, and most importantly, grandchildren. Though only her temporary home, Dr. Moon has ingrained herself in the community. “I think Broken Bow has a lot of strengths in terms of a community - a strong economic base, and a strong history of success.” In her two years in Broken Bow, Dr. Moon has made many friends and has earned the respect of nearly everyone who has come in contact with her. Zlomke attributes much of that to Dr. Moon’s strong communication skills. “You always have the sense that Dr. Moon is listening to what you have to say, and I believe that’s part of the reason people in the community have appreciated her so much,” Zlomke explains. “You walk away from a conversation with her and you know that you have been heard.” And now, in turn, the community has been heard as well - by selecting Dr. Moon 2012 Broken Bow Citizen of the Year. She was presented a plaque at Saturday evenings Chamber Awards Banquet. Though only a temporary citizen of this community, it is apparent that Dr. Virginia Moon has left an impact here that will last many years to come.