CHEYENNE – After six years leading Laramie County School District 2, Superintendent Jon Abrams is taking a job in his home state of Idaho.
The LCSD2 Board of Trustees voted earlier this week to hire Justin Pierantoni, principal of Indian Paintbrush Elementary School in Laramie, as Abrams’ replacement. Pierantoni’s two-year contract with LCSD2 will begin July 1, and he will be paid an annual salary of $130,000.
At the end of this school year, Abrams, will leave the state to oversee Oneida School District in Malad City, Idaho.
Abrams and his wife “just didn’t want to live eight hours away from family anymore.” His new job, he said, “gives us the opportunity to live about 40 minutes from her mother, 40 minutes from my mother and an hour-and-a-half from three of our five children.“ Reflecting on his many years as a school administrator, Abrams said “the past 16 years in Wyoming have been the highlight of my career,” and he pointed to LCSD2’s high graduation rates as one of his biggest accomplishments.
After Abrams announced his departure, a total of 16 people applied to replace him.
Three finalists – including Pierantoni, Greg Figenser, curriculum director for Sweetwater County School District 2, and Aaron Carr, director of Roosevelt Learning Center in Rock Springs – came to the district for an extensive on-campus interview. For a day-and-a-half, each candidate toured schools, met with students and staff, and shared their vision for leading the district with the school board and the community.
“We had three really good candidates,” Julianne Randall, chair of the LCSD2 Board of Trustees, said. “We just felt like, at this time, Justin was the best fit for our district. He’s had a lot of experience as an administrator.”
Throughout his 24-year career in education, Pierantoni has remained in Wyoming, and previously worked as a school principal in Lincoln County School District 2 in Star Valley, where Abrams formerly served as superintendent.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be around many great superintendents. As I continue to grow in my career, I always look for opportunities to better myself and see if the things I’ve learned along the way can better the people around me,” Pierantoni said about why he sought the superintendent role in Pine Bluffs after working for 16 years as a school principal. He grew up in Rock Springs before completing a bachelor’s in elementary education at the University of Wyoming and a master’s in education at Utah State University.
Pierantoni said he’s always enjoyed working in Wyoming’s small-town schools, and that’s one of the reasons why he was attracted to the position in Laramie County.
“My family and I have enjoyed becoming a part of the smaller community setting, and Pine Bluffs is a very positive and progressive place to be,” he said. “I was curious to know if the skills I had fit the direction they wanted to go, and I’m glad I’ve got this opportunity.”
Now that he’s got the job, Pierantoni said he wants to focus on connecting the schools with the surrounding community.
“(S)ome of the virtual (learning) things we experienced last year have really opened up the uniqueness of Pine Bluffs and Burns high schools to really build up tremendous students. Albin and Carpenter are also tremendous student-centered facilities,” he said. “I want to maintain the great things that have been happening there, and also be prepared for all of the unforeseen things that are coming up in the future.”