Fred Dierksen is offically superintendent of schools.

For the first time since 2006, a new name can be seen on the sign just outside of the USD 443 Administrative Office, where it now says “Superintendent of Schools: Dr. Fred Dierksen.”

Dierksen replaces Alan Cunningham, who served as the USD 443 superintendent for 11 years.

Dierksen’s first official day as USD 443 superintendent was Saturday. He says that his first impression of Dodge was that it was a very friendly community.

“I’ve always been fond of the Dodge City community, and it’s an honor for me to get to be the leader for Dodge City schools,” said Dierksen. “I truly care about kids and look forward to serving as the superintendent.”

For now, Dierksen plans on soaking up all the information that he can while things are still moving slow, he said.

“I’m drinking water with a fire hose right now, just taking in a lot of information and just trying to explore and get an understanding of everything that’s going on,” Dierksen said. “July is a very slow month for school districts, so I’m getting what I can and I’m sure that pace is going to keep up for several weeks.”

Though he hasn’t been able to do quite that much yet, Dierksen says that he is loving his job so far, especially the people he has met.

“I have a lot of good people helping me out already. I got to know the departments, so there’s a lot of orientation that’s going on,” he said. “Mr. Cunningham left things in great order and has really made it a smooth transition, making it really easy for me.”

On a bigger scale, Dierksen is completely on board with the Kansas education budgeting situation and how it will impact Dodge.

“We’re just very hopeful, and right now we’re feeling good about the fact that we’re moving forward and it’s making some gains,” he said. “I think it has the potential to be good for Dodge. The verdict remains to be determined, so we’ll be very cautious about that.”

While Dierksen is getting to know the ins and outs of USD 443, he is also focused on becoming more involved with the Dodge City community.

“I’ve been trying to get my feet wet and trying to get oriented, and I want to do the same with activities and different things,” said Dierksen. “I try to be an active community member, I’ll find a church to attend, I try to be seen in town and let the people know that I’m a part of this community and excited to be in it.”

While living in Dodge, Dierksen plans to continue his hobbies which include riding bikes, weight lifting, driving his 1959 Fiat 1100 and drinking coffee.

“My wife and I have a lot of connections with Dodge City,” said Dierksen. “Now that we live here, we are rooted into this community. We look forward to everything Dodge City has in store for us.”

Dierksen can now be seen at his new office in the USD 443 Administrative Office.

For more information or to set up an appointment with Dierksen, contact USD 443 public information officer Yvonda Offerle at 620-371-1023 or by email at offerle.yvonda@usd443.org.

To contact the writer of this story, email egarcia@dodgeglobe.com.