Join us for our 4-part Women Connecting with Women virtual event. USA-Kansas and KASB will feature women leaders working in education. Our monthly events create a space for women across the state to learn, listen, and connect.
Each Women Connecting with Women event will keep us connected until our next Women's Leadership Summit in March of 2024.
Gretchen Pontious started her postsecondary educational journey at Kansas State University and graduated from there in 2009 with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education. Her teaching career began at Arkansas City Middle School in Arkansas City, Kansas. She was an 8th grade Math Teacher there for three years. From there, she accepted a Center Director position at Mathnasium but after a year, missed public education and wanted to return to the classroom. She taught Math at Rose Hill High School for two years before coming to Derby High School. In her five years at Derby High School, she was a Math Teacher and Department Chair. In 2016, she earned her Masters of Arts in Educational Theory and Practice from Arkansas State University. While at Derby High School, she fell in love with leading and went back to school for a Building Leadership Endorsement in 2020 from Fort Hays State University. She then served as the Principal at Park Hill Elementary, in Derby, for three years.
In 2015, she and her husband moved their family to Derby. They knew this was where they wanted to raise their family and have their kids go to school. Her husband is a teacher and coach within the district and our three children attend Derby Public Schools.
Dr. Tonya Merrigan is a skilled educational leader with more than 30 years in education that began as a math teacher. Merrigan assumed the role of Blue Valley Schools Superintendent in the summer of 2020, making her the eighth Blue Valley superintendent and the first female superintendent in district history. Since joining Blue Valley in 1999 as a high school counselor, Merrigan has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, including assistant principal, associate principal, district administrator for Virtual Education, director of Student Programs, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction, assistant superintendent of Academic Services and Deputy Superintendent.
Dr. Merrigan earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of South Dakota, and a doctorate degree from Saint Louis University. A long-time staff member and supporter of Blue Valley Schools, Dr. Merrigan considers it is an honor and a privilege to serve the Blue Valley community. She describes her leadership style as team-centered and looks forward to working closely with the dedicated Blue Valley staff and community of supporters to meet the district’s strategic efforts and help all students achieve personal success.
With a career spanning 23 years in the field of education, Anjanette Tolman has worn many hats, from speech-language pathologist and early childhood director to special services director in a school district serving 30,000 students. This multifaceted experience has provided Ms. Tolman with a comprehensive understanding of unique challenges and opportunities within public schools. She is committed to promoting inclusivity, educational equity, and supporting students in their least restrictive environments.
Jordan Buxton is currently the Business Development Manager for Hutton, a role where she combines her strategic acumen with her commitment to community growth. She fosters partnerships and drives innovation in both the business world and public education. Jordan understands the vital connection between thriving businesses and flourishing communities and works to strengthen and define that bond.
In her capacity as Vice President of the Board of Education for USD 375 Circle Public Schools, Jordan is not just a decision-maker, but a champion of education excellence and redefining what a successful student experience is in Kansas. She brings a wealth of experience and forward-thinking approach to her role, ensuring that our schools remain at the forefront of innovation and student success. Jordan's advocacy for education and work-based learning is a testament to her belief in the transformative power of learning experience beyond the classroom.
Beyond her professional roles, Jordan is a community builder at heart. Her leadership and engagement has created a ripple effect of positive change in the region. Jordan's dedication to strengthening communities can be felt through her resume and involvement in organizations, boards, and committees at the local and state level.
Jordan is married to Luke Buxton and is the mother to 3 active children; Kinley, Hollis, and Steele. When she isn't engaged in community building, she and her husband are coaching and attending all the sporting events and enjoy moments of sneaking away to the lake.
Vice President - USD 375 Circle Public Schools
Vice President Region 6 - Kansas Association of School Boards
Chair - Circle Recreation
Designer/Lead Facilitator - Leadership Butler
Co-Chair - The Butler County ACT - A Workforce Enhancement Project
Co-Chair - Business Education Strategic Team
Member - Talent Roadmap Leadership Coalition
Member - Kansas Chamber of Commerce Talent Supply & Workforce Development Task Group