“Someone told me just the other day that I’ve been here almost long enough to be native, but not quite,” said Jennifer Chilton, one of Sedona-Oak Creek School District’s newest hires. She came to the district in August as its director of communications.
Chilton is originally from Indiana, but also lived in Washington and Oregon before moving to Arizona a little over 10 years ago.
She spent those 10 years at Mingus Union High School as a teacher, as well as in a few administrative roles, including in student support and outreach, and as assistant administrator and principal.
She said her outreach work at Mingus prepared her for her job with SOCSD, which is twofold: Chilton is the director of communications and the facilities use coordinator for the Sedona Performing Arts Center at Sedona Red Rock High School.
Chilton coordinates communication both internally, among the district, schools and staff, and externally, to parents, community organizations and the general public.
Some of her tasks while wearing that hat include updating the district website, writing and distributing memos and newsletters, compiling district data and generally maintaining good relationships with the district’s community partners.
“We’re really focusing on strengthening community partnerships and improving service to parents,” Chilton said.
The vision for this aspect of Chilton’s job comes from the district governing board and superintendent David Lykins, who together formulated a detailed communication plan which Chilton is already working to implement.
As the facilities use coordinator, she is the point person for scheduling use of SPAC, and she also oversees the building’s maintenance and gives tours.
The two blend nicely, Chilton said, because as the facilities use coordinator, she has regular contact with the community organizations that use the building, neatly fulfilling one aspect of her job.
“I get to connect with all kinds of fun people in the community,” Chilton said. “The artists and people who use the events center are very interesting, so I’ve already enjoyed meeting several of them, and also connecting with people from outside Sedona coming in.”
Chilton’s background in education comes in handy for predicting both teachers’ and parents’ needs.
“Having been in the classroom for so many years and really understanding the demands of that gives me particular insight on how I want to support them best,” Chilton said. “It’s very easy for me to always be connecting to the root, or the heart, of our goal, which is the kids and teachers.
“I’ve really loved every role I’ve had in schools,” she added. “I enjoy the sense of purpose that you have, no matter what you’re doing in a school district.”