LOS LUNAS — Ryan Kettler, the principal of Rio Rancho High School, was selected as the new superintendent to lead Los Lunas Schools.

The Los Lunas Board of Education unanimously voted in approval of offering Kettler the position at the Tuesday, July 25, meeting.

Ryan Kettler
New LLS superintendent

The board began the search for a new superintendent in early June following the retirement of Arsenio Romero, who is now the secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Deborah Elder, chief academic officer of curriculum, assessment and innovation for Los Lunas Schools, was appointed interim superintendent at the beginning of March and will now be returning to her existing role within LLS.

Kettler said he was overjoyed to learn he was selected as the superintendent, and that he’s ready to have a good school year.

“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get started,” Kettler told the News-Bulletin Tuesday evening. “I hear nothing but great things about the schools in Los Lunas and the community in general, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the staff at all our schools.

“I want to get to know people and start building relationships, trust and collaboration so that we can continue to move Los Lunas Schools forward and make it the best possible place we can for students in Los Lunas.”

Kettler describes himself in his resume as “an innovative leader focused on engaging with students, educators and school communities to meet learning objectives and drive student progress.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education, a master of science degree in kinesiology and a PhD in physical education. Kettler currently teaches classes through Southwestern University in Hobbs regarding legal and ethical issues in exercise and sports sciences, operations and fiscal management and instructional leadership.

Kettler was a vice principal prior to becoming the principal at Rio Rancho High School. Throughout his career, he has held multiple assistant principal roles at a variety of schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

“It was a really difficult decision. I was very impressed with the interview process; the responses were outstanding,” said Los Lunas Board of Education member Bryan Smith at the meeting. “Speaking for myself, I’m going to hold this individual accountable to staff and students of the district.”

Board member Bruce Bennett echoed the fact that it wasn’t an easy decision, “but moving forward, I think it’s probably the best decision for the district.”

Board member Eloy Giron thanked Elder for leading the district in the right direction during her time as interim, and said he felt good about how the superintendent search was handled.

“All the applicants were excited to apply in our district and that’s what I want, for us to be a premier district,” said board president Tina Garcia. “We struggle sometimes, internally and externally, but I’m very pleased this board worked very professionally to get to a resolution, and I’m so happy that Dr. Elder saw us through this process and stood by us as we got to this place, and I thank everybody who played a role in getting us to today’s decision.”

Kettler was among the three finalists for the superintendent position, which included himself, Elena Trodden and Curtis Clough.

Trodden is the LLS director of language innovations. She has served LLS since beginning her career in education in 1997 as a teacher, principal and assistant principal in the district. Trodden has helped shape various academic programs and initiatives in LLS.

Clough is the superintendent of Hagerman Municipal Schools. He has worked at various levels of administration in several school districts and has a bachelor’s degree in social studies and a master’s degree in physical education.

Beth Pendergrass, chief communications, strategy and engagement officer with Rio Rancho Public Schools said, “We wish (Kettler) the best and we’re working with him on a transition plan.”

Other applicants for the superintendent position included:

  • Brian Baca, who is currently the deputy superintendent of LLS and is a state representative. He is responsible for the supervision and oversight of maintenance, athletics, transportation and safety and security at LLS.
  • Keith Bausman is currently the assistant superintendent of human resources at Hazelwood Schools in Saint Louis, Mo.
  • Nicea Chavez, from Las Vegas, N.M., was most recently a middle and high school principal at the Peñasco Independent School District.
  • Susan Chavez, the chief student services officer at LLS, oversees  early childhood education, educational technology, health and wellness, Medicaid services in the schools, Native American education, social emotional learning and special education.
  • Jed Duggan is from Las Cruces, and is the director for student success at Gadsden Independent School District.
  • Katherine House is the director of elementary learning innovations at LLS. Prior to joining Los Lunas, she served as a dual certified teacher, special education instructional leader, school site assistant principal, principal and principal support specialist between Rio Rancho and Albuquerque Public Schools.
  • George Martin, from Gilbert, Ariz., is currently the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and programs at Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind.
  • Kay Morris, of Albuquerque, is the associate superintendent at Pojoaque Valley School District in Santa Fe.
  • Dave Plymale, of Goliad, Texas, is a leadership and educational consultant and regional director. He was among the finalists originally selected for interviews, but decided to step down after further discussion with his family.
  • Gregory Rockhold, of Hobbs, N.M., was recently a director of programs and interim principal at 21 sites with Hobbs Municipal Schools and Regional Education Cooperative VII.
  • Robert Sims is currently the assistant principal at Los Lunas High School and is a dissertation committee content expert and principal mentor at Grand Canyon University.
  • Katherine Trujillo, of Los Lunas, is currently the special projects coordinator and educational consultant in the community engagement division of the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General.
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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.