Steve Nordby, principal at Garden City High School, is the Principal of the Year for Southwest Kansas (Region 6) as selected by the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals.
Nordby said he felt proud to be recognized by his peers from across the state.
While it is his name on the award, Nordby said that, to him, it’s a team award.
“In the school, especially one as large as this, I might be the head principal, but I certainly don’t do anything by myself,” he said. “I’ve got a great team, my associates are fantastic, and I have a great staff. So while my name is on the award, I know that in my eyes it’s really an acknowledgment of what our teams have done.”
It’s easy to feel isolated out here in Garden City, Nordby said, so it’s nice to know that what he and his team are doing here is appreciated by their peers, especially ones he’s learned from in the past.
Nordby said he was surprised to find out that he was named Principal of the Year. He knew about the nomination and knew he won an award, but didn’t know on what level until it was announced on April 23.
“It’s flattering, and like I said, a nice acknowledgment of all the work that my team and I do,” he said.
A native of Yankton, S.D., Nordby graduated from Yankton High School in 1986.
Following high school, Nordby attended Fort Hays State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in physical science in 1990. He also received a master’s degree in counseling from Fort Hays State in 1997.
Nordby has been teaching since 1990, and he began his career at Cloud County Community College, where he taught for two years.
Afterward, he moved to Elkhart, where he taught science until 2006, primarily at Elkhart Middle School. Nordby then spent one year at Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Sublette as an educational consultant.
In 2007, Nordby moved to Garden City, where he began as an assessment coordinator.
When Garden City High School was built and opened in 2012, an opportunity arose to be an associate principal. Nordby got the position and served as an associate principal until 2015, when he was chosen as the new GCHS head principal.
He is now finishing his fifth year as the head principal at GCHS.
Nordby lives in Garden City with his wife, Kristi, a teacher at Horace Good Middle School. The couple have two adult daughters who both graduated from GCHS and are now in college.
Norby said he got into education because of the people he admired growing up.
“A lot of folks I looked up to I guess in my childhood, my role models, were teachers and coaches, and I felt that I really kind of wanted to follow in their footsteps, I guess,” he said. “Education has always been a challenging and really rewarding career, both in the classroom and in administration.”