An innovative and energetic Canyons School District director who has a reputation for having a laser-like focus on increasing student achievement has been selected as the new superintendent of the Provo City School District.
Wendy Dau, CSD’s Director of State and Federal Programs, was appointed the new leader of the 13,500-student public school system on Friday, May 5. Dau, who also has served as Principal of Jordan High and Midvale Middle schools, succeeds Superintendent Keith C. Rittel, who has led Provo since 2012.
Dau, whose teaching career started at Davis High in 1996, joined Canyons District in 2013 when she was appointed the Assistant Principal of Jordan High.
“I taught for 17 years in Davis district. However, my entire administrative career has been in Canyons. This is where I have been mentored by great assistant principals, principals, district directors, and superintendents,” said Dau, a recipient of a 2011 United States Presidential Scholar Recognition Award.
“Canyons has provided me not only with the opportunities to lead and to problem-solve and to serve students and families at a level I never thought possible,” she said, “but it has provided me with incredible mentors who have seen my potential and have been willing to engage in courageous conversations with me to help me improve and grow as an educator, as a professional, and as a human being.”
Dau, who met with Provo employees prior to her appointment by the Provo City Board of Education, will hit the job after the end of this school year. She says she’ll immediately start dialogues with Provo school-district faculty and staff, parents, patrons, and local policy makers. Dau also says she’ll focus on building a strong public-communication plan about the academic initiatives, operations, and achievements of Provo schools, students, and employees.
“Canyons District’s loss is Provo District’s gain, that is for sure. In all of her assignments, Wendy has done a fantastic job. Throughout the years, and as a result of her hard work, she has built strong relationships with our Board of Education, fellow Administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students,” said Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins. “I have no doubt that Wendy will do an amazing job in Provo, and I am so pleased she’ll continue to be an advocate for Utah public schools and students. I am equally pleased I will be able to work alongside her as a fellow Superintendent.”
As she moves toward her new post as the chief executive officer in the Provo district, Dau, who oversaw the construction of the new Midvale Middle when it was rebuilt as a project completed with funds from the 2017 general obligation bond, emphasizes the importance of a strong school-to-home connection. Parents, teachers, principals, and staff, all working together, all play vital roles in the success of students, she said,
“All too often, I hear schools complain that ‘The District’ creates barriers for schools to be effective with students and families,” said Dau, who has two master’s degrees from the University of Utah and is expected to receive her doctorate degree in fall 2023. “My goal has always been to serve our schools and to provide what they need so they can be successful and effective with our students — and that will continue to be my focus.”
In her Canyons District role, which is Cabinet-level, Dau manages all Title I funding, provides supports to Title I schools, and their feeder patterns, plus the funding and structure for supporting multilingual students, including newcomer and refugee students. Also, she oversees the Community Schools Model, McKinney-Vento funding, and resources for students and families experiencing homelessness, among other duties.
“I have always been known as a fighter—an individual who fights to expand opportunities for all students, regardless of background or challenges or beliefs,” she said. “I believe that education is a powerful institution that will either perpetuate the status quo or expand opportunities for greater numbers of students and families. I want to be part of an institution that creates these opportunities for all so that we can have a balanced society where all voices are heard and valued.”