Being a great leader not only means pushing your community to become the best version of itself, but inspiring others to take on the challenging mantle of leadership as well.
I’m a student of Beth Wytoski and I believe that as the Mayor of Dayton and a teacher at Dayton High School, she embodies the definition of a great leader. While creating her own paths, she is paving the way for others as well, by being a leading model for rural communities and school districts nationwide.
Dayton has held a special place in Beth’s heart all her life. Born and raised in the community, she grew up in the Dayton School District and participated in many activities that kept her involved with the community such as band, softball, and basketball. Aside from later attending the University of Oregon to receive her teaching license, she has always called Dayton home. So she decided to build a career here, serving the community and school district. Following this decision, she became a government and civics teacher at Dayton High School and has also been mayor of Dayton since 2014.
Her decision to become mayor did not only stem from her passion for law and government but because she wanted to set an example for her students. Beth says: “I had always hated the phrase; ‘those who can’t do, teach.’ I want to show my students that you can teach AND do.” Her role as a teacher works parallel to her role as mayor, which allows her students to see the connections between their classwork and real governmental systems. These dual positions have shaped her ability to form a connection and basic understanding of the students, knowing the hardships they may face at home or in their community, and being able to understand their possible disdain for her class. With a unique ability to level with her students, she believes that her dual positions directly coincide with and support one another. Beth is constantly striving to set a strong example for those she leads by establishing sincere goals for the betterment of her community.
Beth’s recent accomplishments have helped catapult her most important goal in her career: Showing others that small communities deserve to be heard.
In September of 2019, Beth was offered a spot in a national “Women in Municipal Leadership” conference held at the White House in Washington D.C. Due to her outstanding leadership accomplishments, The League of Oregon Cities offered Beth a participation spot out of just two total in the state. At the conference, she was awarded the Civic Education Award. While reflecting on her experience at the White House, Beth expressed that her most impactful moment throughout the trip was connecting with people that could help improve Dayton. “It’s crazy because I walked away with phone numbers from people who may be able to support Dayton all the way in D.C.” She is excited to be able to establish a more outspoken name for the small rural community of Dayton, as well as many other communities like it.
One of the most important attributes that allow Beth to be a great mayor and teacher, is her ability to lead. When asked what she believes is the most important attribute to being a leader, she voiced loving the people you lead. She says: “Even when there’s frustration, I ultimately love everyone in this community.” Her deep-rooted passion and love for this community drives her to be the impactful leader she is.
While her leadership has made her a strong community figure, it has also impacted her role as a teacher. This influence has motivated many of Beth’s students to strive for success beyond the classroom. One of these students is Kallin Blackburn, a senior at Dayton High School who participated in her Government and Economics class last semester. When speaking about Beth Wytoski and how she has helped him beyond the classroom, Kallin says: “Beth has pushed me to become a better person because she sees my potential. She will never put up with me doing less than my best and it inspires me to do so.”
To many, Beth Wytoski is a teacher, a friend, a mayor, or a leader. For me, she is that and much more. It was important for me to not only share Beth’s story to the community but also to share how much she has impacted me. Beth is my aunt and has taken on the family role for me from a very young age. When I was thirteen years old, I moved from South Dakota to Oregon. This move was largely significant in my life, as it was the first true big change I had gone through. Despite being greeted by a wonderful family that supported me from the moment I got there, this family was unfamiliar and there were moments where I felt like an outcast. I felt like the move had stripped my life of normality. These emotions were partially because of the strong family values and connections that had already been formed with the Dayton community. Beth aided in that feeling by introducing me to many community members, helping me form connections with people my age, and inviting me directly into the community so I no longer felt like an outcast. I was embraced into the deep web of the true family in Dayton and without Beth and her family, that wouldn’t have been possible. She has taught me how to be a better person and most importantly, how to be a leader. I can speak to say that she truly touches the hearts of everyone she meets and did not fail to touch mine. I’m so thankful to have been taught by her and more thankful to call her my aunt.
The hard work and dedication that Beth Wytoski continues to display is inspiring greatness from both the students in Dayton High and the community at large. While establishing the voice of Dayton, her desire to create an authentic learning experience for students has impacted the entire Dayton School District and beyond. Moving forward, Beth Wytoski will continue to be a leading model in rural education while inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.
Hannah White is a junior at Dayton High School. With a love for people of all kinds, she aspires to study developmental psychology. She’s also passionate about all things music, having learned violin, trombone, and played euphonium for the Dayton High School band.