Rick Rayburn will retire as Lemoore Elementary District Superintendent

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Retiring Lemoore Elementary District Superintendent Rich Rayburn reflects on his tenure in Lemoore.
Retiring Lemoore Elementary District Superintendent Rich Rayburn reflects on his tenure in Lemoore.

Rest assured that once he retires on June 30 from his current job as the Lemoore Elementary School District Superintendent, Rick Rayburn has no plans to return to his old job – at Disneyland. Instead Rayburn, who has spent his entire adult life in education, spending much of the ‘70s and ‘80s as an elementary teacher in Anaheim and then as an administrator in Lemoore – and as the superintendent since 2008 – has decided to spend his upcoming free hours writing, traveling, spending time with family and getting involved in the community.

Rayburn, a quiet unassuming presence, looks and feels the part of a school superintendent, and he speaks with utmost sincerity when talking about his district and its teachers, students and staff. It is clear that he likes his job and relishes the more than 40 years he has put into the educational arena – from his role as a teacher to his current job as superintendent.

What’s next on his life agenda?

“I certainly have a big list of ‘to dos,’” he said from his comfortable office at the Lemoore District Office complex on Hanford Armona Road. “We want to do some traveling and maybe take things one day at a time, maybe do some writing as well.

“I want to get involved,” said Rayburn. “I want to branch out and see what other things I might do.”

One thing is for certain. He and wife Viki will certainly spend quality time in Chico with their 1-year-old grandson and their own children: Jason, 33 and twins Jacob and Eleanor, both 27.

Rayburn has decided to call it a career after more than 40 years after graduating from Whittier College in 1975, and later from Cal State Fullerton where he earned a Master’s Degree.

Rayburn will hand the superintendent’s job off to the district’s assistant superintendent, Cheryl Hunt, a former Hanford High School principal, who recently joined Lemoore Elementary.

Rayburn spent his first 15 years in education in the Anaheim School District working in three different schools. He was a classroom teacher and a Social Studies instructional television teacher. “It was a great job,” he said. “We created social studies lessons for grades 3 through 6. I would write the lessons and then teach the lessons.”

In 1994 Rayburn accepted a principal’s job in Lemoore and began his administrative career as Lemoore Elementary School’s principal. In 1997-98 he transferred to Meadow Lane Elementary, and in 1999 he was asked by then Superintendent Ron Meade to come to the district office as Director of Projects.

He got the job as assistant superintendent in 2006 and two years later, when Meade retired, he signed on as the district’s superintendent.

Not a bad career path considering his first job was at Disneyland.

When asked what he has accomplished, Rayburn immediate gave credit to the teachers and staff of the district. “We have collectively a lot of accomplishments in the district. I’m surrounded by some really great people.”

However, he warned that education still has a lot of work to do. “There are still too many kids who aren’t reaching the levels they should be reaching,” he warned. “Kids today have a lot of challenges. There is much more to be done, but we’re making progress.”

The Lemoore Elementary District currently has about 3,200 students, 155 teachers and 15 administrative staff. He doesn’t expect much growth in the coming years and says the district has no new plans for additional schools.

“We’ve been flat or a little down for a long time,” said Rayburn. “The recession affected our enrollment.”

Regardless of what happens next, Rayburn will cherish the time he spent in Lemoore.

“Lemoore is a lot like what Orange County was like when I was a kid,” said a wistful Rayburn as he reflected on his career. “There were a lot of rural areas and open space in Orange County. I was lucky to live there when there were orange groves and fields. Lemoore is like Orange County used to be. It was becoming a real rat race in Orange County.”

Lemoore has grown, said Rayburn, but he said it will always retain that small-town charm.

“Lemoore has become a little less rural (since arriving here). There was a cotton field growing in Lemoore when I first came here, across from Liberty Middle School, and now that’s all developed. There’s a lot more development here, but Lemoore still has that small town feel, which is attractive.

“We thought we’d be here only a couple of years, but years later we’re still here. So there are a lot of attractive qualities to this small town feel.  Just getting to know people involved in the community is important.”

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