Bringing years of expertise and experience, the new superintendent of Dulce Independent Schools will transition into a new state and a new school district during a fragile time.
Superintendent Jim Hattabaugh moved from his hometown Fayetteville, Ark. to Dulce for the job.
“I really like the area,” he said. “The people have been outstanding.”
The seventh child of nine, he became fascinated by the high desert country when he moved to Washington as an 11-year-old, he said. There he worked as a migrant worker, picking apples and cotton.
“I’ve always treasured it,” he said about the desert. “I had it in the back of my mind, at some point of my career, I always wanted to live in this area.”
Six years ago, working over the summer with the Philmont Training Center Headquarters, in Cimarron, his love for New Mexico grew.
Hattabaugh holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree in student counseling and personnel services from Western Washington University, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from University of Arkansas.
Hattabaugh said he has held every position in schools, including bus driver and basketball coach.
A few of those jobs were at universities and high schools, such as Wenatchee Valley Community College, Walla Walla Community College, Georgia Southern University, Pittsburg State University, Grand Canyon University, Greenland School District, Van Buren School District and Mansfield School District.
He said his passion is in public education.
He also has a passion for hiking and biking, he said.
Since his four children are all in college or working, now is the time for him to explore the opportunity to be part of a new community and a new school district, he said.
“What I bring is a lot of experience working within a system, an organization of analyses of what the issues are,” he said when asked what he hopes to bring to the District.
He hopes to bring positive aspects of change when looking at the school system in Dulce and is planning to narrow what the District could do better.
“We are comfortable with where we’re at and where we’re headed,” he said. “I love to learn new cultures and meet new people, try new foods.”
With an appetite for the outdoors, he said his biggest hobby is photography. Being here in New Mexico, he would like to take advantage of capturing the beauty.
He said he would like to travel and explore more but due to the pandemic, it is hard to do that.
“Now that you have the time and resources, you can’t travel,” he said. “What a crazy world we live in.”
His first concern for the new school year is the safety and well-being of all the students, staff and community, he said.
He is also concerned about the education of the students. Teaching the students to the best of everyone’s ability will require a lot of effort from the educators during this trying time, he said.
Coming from such a large family, he said he appreciates the importance of development for the youth and their future, of creating better opportunities for them to carry with them in the years to come.