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DalMolin takes over Globe school district after Jennex moves on

Globe native Dr. Christa DalMolin is the new superintendent of the Globe Unified School District. Photo by Yevette Vargas

Building on more than a decade of stability, the Globe Unified School District hopes to continue that streak with the recent hiring of Dr. Christa DalMolin as its new superintendent.

Former Superintendent Jerry Jennex, who led the district for 12 years, left mid-year for a Southern California school district. On March 1, DalMolin was promoted from her position as Deputy Superintendent and Human Resources Manager by the GUSD Governing Board.

Now, the school system steeped in “Tiger Pride” will be led by a multi-generational local who credits the GUSD with giving her the tools she needed to succeed.

It was a big step for the first woman superintendent in the District’s 110-year history and a challenge she has spent her entire life preparing for.

“One of the things I’m proud of is that I now get to lead the district that helped build me foundationally,” says Superintendent DalMolin. “The Globe Unified School District set me up for success so I could go to college and have different experiences to learn more about myself as I gained a larger worldview.”

Arizona Roots

DalMolin’s family first moved to the area more than 100 years ago following the railroads, and they have called the Globe-Miami area home since.

Christa DalMolin represents the fifth generation in the region and the third generation to graduate from Globe High School. Her daughter, who will graduate next year, will be the fourth.

“I watched my grandpa and grandma on both sides, my parents and everybody else, working really hard to give us kids a good future,” DalMolin says. “I’m thankful for parents who never made me feel like I was limited based upon where I lived or where I grew up.”

After high school, DalMolin entered the Women in Science and Engineering Program at the University of Arizona. She eventually earned bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Education and Agriculture Technology Management.

While at UA, DalMolin started playing rugby in her freshman year. After watching the men’s rugby team, she commented to her friend that it seemed to be a very brutal sport. When the friend told her she could never play, DalMolin took it as “a dare” and by the following spring, was on the UA pitch.

She also played for the Tucson Lightning in the Tucson Women’s Rugby League.

“It shows a lot about my personality and how I approach things: I don’t back down from a challenge,” DalMolin says. “When things get tough, I think ‘I can do this, I used to go out and get the crap beat out of me by a bunch of women that were bigger than me’.”

Experiencing the outside world

DalMolin enrolled in a master’s program after earning her bachelor’s because her father advised her not to take a break from school and lose momentum. With her Master’s in Education, she moved to Flushing, New York, to teach at John Bowne High School. At the time—the early 2000s—it was one of the 10 most dangerous schools in New York City.

“It was a culture shock in so many ways,” DalMolin says. “I was not fully equipped to understand the students I had there, but I learned to love them and still have so many fond memories. I do not regret going there for one second.”

She taught in Queens for two years before moving to Ames, Iowa to pursue her doctorate in education.

The move was another culture shock for the small-town native, as the demographics in Iowa were completely opposite of the inner-city school in New York, where “white” and “other” made up less than 2% of the population.

“In New York, I may have been the only blonde in the whole school environment. I stuck out like a sore thumb,” DalMolin says. “Then I went to Iowa and it was exactly the opposite.”

It was in Iowa where she acquired her passion for teaching. As a young teacher’s aide, DalMolin taught classes to work her way through school, with the goal of “teaching teachers to teach.” But before she completed her dissertation, she decided to move back to her hometown to start a family.

Back home again

DalMolin returned as an ABD—all but dissertation—and worked for Freeport-McMoRan from 2007 through 2015 when she took a position in the Human Resources Department at GUSD.

In the back of her mind, she still had unfinished business regarding her doctoral degree.

“I completed all my classes, but thought I’d leave the university and finish my dissertation at home,” DolMolin says. “A number of years and children later, I’m working at Globe schools and since this was the only goal I’ve made in my life that I have not accomplished, I went back to school and completed it through the American College of Education in 2018.”

Fast-forward to 2024 and DalMolin suddenly found herself in a position she did not expect to be in. Jennex was offered a job in Trona, California—near Death Valley—and tendered his resignation in the fall of 2023.

DalMolin says it’s fortunate she worked with Jennex long enough to have a good handle on what’s required to run GUSD.

Superintendent Christa Dalmolin Photo by Y.Vargas/GMT

Challenges and opportunities

In the months since the transition, DalMolin has met with all the district employees, including teachers and staff members, to broaden her perspective on what’s happening throughout the system.

She hired her first principal for Globe High School, Jeremiah Johnson, and is focused on what she sees as the most important thing: serving the students’ needs. Given the state of educational funding in Arizona, that will not be easy.

“We always have a recruitment and retention challenge and we’re in Arizona, which means that funding is limited, and so recruiting and retaining qualified staff is going to be hard,” DalMolin says. “We’re going to make decisions with students at the center, but more often than not a decision that’s best for students is actually what’s best for teachers as well.”

In her first full year at the helm, GUSD will lose about $140,000 in grant cuts from Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants.

“That is a challenge because our needs do not ever decrease,” DalMolin says. “It doesn’t matter how many students you have in seats, there’s a baseline you have to provide.”

Another challenge GUSD will face, a problem that most school districts in the country face, is the after-effects of COVID and the learning loss for an entire generation of students.

But DalMolin is confident in the staff that has been assembled and the stability of a school district that has not had a lot of administrative turnover in the past decade or so.

“It is a good thing to be a Globe Tiger and we’re proud of that,” she says. “We’re going to work to ignite that passion in our students, and then share that with our community. We really try to be a good community partner, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Marcy Hernandez Retires

Marcy Hernandez, who worked at GUSD for 28 years and served as assistant to five superintendents, will retire this year. Photo by Y.Vargas/GMT

Marcy Hernandez will be retiring from GUSD after 28 years with the district. She began her career as a Sped Pre School Para and has worked under five Superintendents. She moved into the office as an attendance clerk and later as Administrative Assistant to the principal before taking a position as Assistant to the Superintendent and Executive Secretary to the Board. She says she plans to be active and enjoy friends and family while traveling and learning new hobbies.

About David Abbott

Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.

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