Maxwell’s new school chief is homegrown


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While Maxwell Unified will see the retirement of popular Superintendent Zach Thurman this summer, his replacement will likely bring far greater stability to the district, according to school officials.

Summer Shadley, Arbuckle Elementary School principal, will take over the helm of Maxwell schools on July 1.

Unlike many school districts that have high turnovers rates from administers who parachute in for a three-or-four year stint before moving on to other jobs, Maxwell’s new chief was not only raised in the small community, but is a resident as well.

“I have always wanted to work in the community in which I live,” Shadley said.

Shadley is a 2004 graduate of Maxwell High School, and while she said she loves her job in Arbuckle, the one thing that kept coming back to her when she weighed the pros and cons of applying for the superintendent position, is the community connection she has to the Maxwell and the impact that could make in the district.

According to research, teachers and administrators who return to work in their home communities have greater connection to their students and their needs.

“There is something to be said about knowing you are having a positive impact on future generations that will shape the community of Maxwell for years to come,” Shapley said. “That excites me.”

Shadley, the daughter of David and Nita Wells, is a fourth generation Maxwell native and grew up on the farm. She walked the halls of Maxwell High School as a student 16 years ago, before attending California State University, Chico, on an Agbusiness scholarship.

After one year, Shadley switched gears to pursue a career in education. She graduated in 2007. She worked for Fall River Joint Unified, teaching high school at the community day school, and taught second grade in the Pierce Joint Unified School District while earning her master’s degree and administrative credentials.

She has been principal at the Arbuckle and Grimes elementary schools for six years, but said she is looking forward to a long career in her hometown.

“What I love about Maxwell is that it is a small, caring community that supports its youth,” she said. “Relationships are an essential part of a successful educational culture and being a small district allows for relationships to be built among students, staff, parents and community members.”

Shadley said working in the same community where her children attend school will also allow her to better balance her work and home life, which has always been challenge because of her “whatever it takes” mentality.

“Growing up, my parents were very supportive and attended every sports function and other extracurricular activities I was involved in,” she said. “As principal in another town, I spent many evenings away from my kids as I give 110 percent to my job. That’s the way I was raised. There were many times when our open houses were on the same day, awards assemblies, etc.”

Shadley is married to Robert Shadley, III, a former member of the Maxwell Unified School District Board of Trustees. They have two children, a son, 8, and daughter, 10, who attend Maxwell Elementary School.

“I want to make sure I am there to support them along the way,” she said. “Working in my hometown will give me the flexibility I need to do my job well and be an excellent mom.”
Shadley said she is prepared to face the challenges educators have today helping students develop the skills they need to go to college, enter the workforce, and ultimately have leg up in society.

“Schools today are pushed to prepare students for the 21st Century,” she said. “While the world of technology continues to change faster than we can keep up, I believe if we put too much of an emphasis on technology, we forget the very things that make existence and success possible. Education is all about learning and accomplishing tasks even if there aren’t your favorite or easiest. It’s about teaching respect, work ethic, and integrity as we prepare students to be productive citizens in society. Being a past graduate of Maxwell High School, I can tell you that this is a definite advantage of going to school in Maxwell.

The staff and community really want what is best for kids and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.”

Shadley said she is on board with the district’s goal to provide a meaningful, rigorous academic program for all students within a safe and supportive environment.

“My personal beliefs about education align perfectly to the mission of the school board, which makes this new ‘marriage’ a perfect fit,” she said. “I want what is best for every student that enters the doors at Maxwell Elementary/Middle School and Maxwell High School. In order for this mission to be upheld custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraeducators, secretaries, maintenance employees, teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and the school board all have to work together to do what best for students because we all have a major role. If just one is lacking, we forfeit the mission.

What I love about Maxwell is that I believe we have what it takes to continue doing what is best for students and I have seen it first hand as a student, a parent, and now as an employee.” ■

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at