A MATTER OF SCHEER DETERMINATION
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
A beloved Superintendent's impact on TSD lives on through a Memorial Fund in his name. Learn more about this remarkable leader.
Stanley Martin Scheer was born in Flint, Michigan on March 11, 1943 to Martin and Willodene Scheer, and grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. After being the first in his family to graduate from high school (Cheyenne Central, 1961), he went on to obtain three degrees from the University of Wyoming, culminating in a Doctoral degree in education. As an educator for more than 50 years, his career included stints as a 6th grade teacher, a building principal, a position with the Wyoming Department of Education, and an assistant superintendent for curriculum in two different school districts. He then went on to serve as a highly successful superintendent of four different school districts: Ferguson-Florissant in Missouri, Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, Murrieta Valley in California, and the Thompson School District in Colorado. He oversaw, and improved, the education of hundreds of thousands of students over the course of his career.
As a child, Scheer grew up in a family with very little. He once reflected upon a high school principal who stepped in when he was a young boy, buying him a baseball glove that his family could not afford. Scott Murphy, who succeeded Dr. Scheer as Superintendent of Littleton Public Schools, said Scheer told him he came from a rough and troubled childhood, and teachers were the first ones to see his potential, giving him direction lacking in his home life. “He came from the other side of the tracks, and he didn’t have a lot of people who believed in him in his young age,” Stan’s son, Darin Scheer, said. “The first people who believed in him, who saw something in him that he didn’t see, were educators. He had educators who played an immense role in his life.”
Scheer went on to excel in sports and college. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965 while he was studying at the University of Wyoming and served for two years, being asked to ultimately develop and run a sports program stateside for more than 15,000 men and women in the military. After he was discharged from the military, Scheer continued his education, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college and ultimately earning a doctoral degree.
Murphy recalled how Dr. Scheer and his wife, Marian, also a military veteran, substantially boosted how Littleton Public Schools marked Veterans Day, noting that Marian would often visit schools on Veterans Day in uniform, and would lead educational programs for students. “It’s a big deal at LPS, and it wasn’t before him,” said Mary McGlone, a former LPS board member. “Every Veterans Day, he found a way for every school to get educated about veterans and remember their sacrifice, everything from choir concerts at the elementary level to meaningful conversations at the high school level. It was about more than just parents and grandparents. He would bring in community members who served.”
“Stan was the rare combination of brains and heart,” McGlone continued. “He sought out the district’s critics and found ways to bring them into the fold. When he first got here, he spent months just meeting with people: teachers, district staff, everyone. He made parents feel like they had something to contribute.” Murphy, as the district’s then-director of operations, sat on the committee that hired Scheer. “He was a great communicator. His eyes didn’t wander as you spoke. He was focused on you and only you.”
Though Scheer was a gregarious man who loved golf and travel, Murphy said Scheer approached the job of superintendent more as a lifestyle than a career. “He’d go home for dinner, then he would head back out to school plays, sports games, whatever events were going on. He was there.”
Other moments stood out: On mornings when he was deciding whether to cancel school due to a snow storm, Scheer often would show up at the bus garage at 4:30 a.m. with a box of donuts for the drivers and mechanics. “He knew they would have a tough day ahead, and he wanted them to know their superintendent understood how important they were to the success of the district and the ability for kids to be in class learning on those days,” Darin Scheer said. Scheer would sometimes fill in as a substitute teacher, making sure he stayed grounded in what teacher’s daily lives were like. McGlone also recalled his habit of taping a $100 bill beneath a random chair at every graduation ceremony, and his practice of holding private graduation ceremonies for students whose disabilities prevented them from attending regular graduations.
In 2012, he took the job as superintendent of the Thompson School District, accepting a pay cut and insisting on a buyout clause of just $1 because he believed his skills could make a difference in the district, which those who worked closely with him say they did. Scheer join TSD during a time of both financial and political turmoil within the district. And Scheer took on the challenge, guiding the district through those difficult times, always keeping education a priority.
“He came in at a time when there was some level of turmoil and he was a steady hand,” said Cecil Gutierrez, former mayor of Loveland and close friend of Scheer. “He guided the ship with a steady hand. He did everything he could to maintain quality education for the students in this district and was very successful, in my opinion.”
Gutierrez said Scheer often spoke of the educators who inspired and mentored him, who motivated him to a career in public education. “He wanted to be a leader who could attract teachers who could have the same type of impact on kids in this community right now,” Gutierrez said.
Those who knew Scheer described him as smart, funny, hard-working, kind, generous, filled with integrity and dedicated to problem solving through collaboration. They spoke of how he had a heart for every kid and worked tirelessly throughout his career to nurture public education. “He had a real heart for Thompson,” said Darin Scheer.
During his time in Thompson, one of Stan Scheer’s major accomplishments was the construction of High Plains School in the midst of tough financial times. Other accomplishments include growing a robust school resource officer program and improving safety protocols within each school. “He was a visionary guy,” Darin Scheer asserted. “He got schools built. High Plains School, that’s his baby. He was so proud of that school. He got a lot of opposition on that … He was a visionary who tried hard to make sure that others were on board with him so he was always quick to spread the credit.”
Upon his retirement in 2018, Lori Hvizda Ward, then-president of the TSD board of education, told stories of how Scheer dipped into his own pocket to help students in need, once buying an electric keyboard for a student who was interested in piano but whose family could not afford one, and buying championship rings for students on a winning team who could not pay for their own. Gutierrez, too, witnessed many times that Scheer quietly paid for things to help students in need, knowing he didn’t want any student to miss out on an opportunity based on financial hardship.
“He was just such an important part of our community,” said Pam Howard, a school board member who worked closely with Scheer for many years and who stayed in touch with him after his retirement. “His leadership was remarkable because he led by example,” Howard said. “His actions always backed up his words, and they always led the way for others to follow. He truly lived a life of service and he left our community, and really the world, a better place.”
Upon his retirement, Scheer said he planned to spend time with his wife and family. Two years into his retirement, he died of COVID-19 at the age of 77 at Medical Center of the Rockies, just days after his beloved wife, Marian, 82, also succumbed to the virus. The couple lived in Windsor, Colorado, and left behind five children and 13 grandchildren.
Dr. Scheer’s legacy of selfless giving lives on in the Dr. Stan Scheer Memorial Student Opportunity Fund, administered by the Thompson Education Foundation.