Steamboat schools see new leadership

Soda Creek Elementary gets new principal, middle school gets new pincipal, assistant principal

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— An aura of camaraderie begins to fill the campuses and district offices as old and new faculty begin to gather to prepare for the 2001-2002 school year in Steamboat Springs.

But maintaining achievable goals for a prosperous and successful year deem the highest of priorities for three people in charge of faculty, staff and students' well being.

For the new Soda Creek Elementary principal, the Steamboat Springs Middle School principal and assistant principal, communication and support are ranked as the highest priorities in these new positions.

Judy Harris, Soda Creek principal, said rebuilding strong and healthy relationships between parents, faculty, staff and students hopefully will create a more enthusiastic aura at Soda Creek.

"I'll be doing a lot of listening and helping to support the wonderful educational programs started. And I want to stay focused on student achievement," Harris said.

Tim Bishop, middle school principal, couldn't agree more with Harris' ideas, but added that communication between the community and parents also is key.

"Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed with good and bad feelings. We want to make it a positive experience and we want their input," Bishop said.

Jerry Buelter, middle school assistant principal, said he and Bishop share a feeling of professional community, allowing teachers to join forces for the good of the students.

"It's a community where teachers are learners because all staff model learning," Buelter said. "We want collegiality."

Bishop said he wants to inform parents of what's happening in their children's lives because the middle school age group tends to create a barrier of communication between families. He also said building a professional learning community where teachers can share and learn from each other will keep the positive energy flowing at the middle school.

Bishop said his new position came suddenly, but it was the natural step to take when the space was available.

Former middle school principal Sandy Hall took the position of superintendent of the Mountain Valley School District in Saguache, Colo.

"I don't know all the answers. I just want to empower teachers to try those things they've wanted to and to push them and challenge them," Bishop said.

While the 2000-2001 school year brought disgruntled students and parents to the forefront of many issues, the three new administrators have a positive outlook that the structure of a building is held up by support.

Harris already has worked closely with administrators, faculty and staff because of her position as content standards director, which has been filled by Kelly Stanford, and noted that support for her new position has been outstanding.

"John D and I will be working very closely," Harris said of Strawberry Park Elementary principal John DeVincentis. "There's so much positive energy. It's a wonderful, exciting team feeling."

"We want to get the word out early of what's acceptable and what's not," Bishop said.

Bishop is referring to policies such as the new dress code for the middle school.

Instead of handing out the pamphlets that students don't read, volunteer eighth graders will present a fashion show during the first couple weeks of school to show what is and is not acceptable.

Bishop and Buelter were hired as interim principal and assistant principal due to the unexpected voids left open in the middle of summer.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said both of these positions will be nationally advertised in November for a full-time principal. Bishop and Buelter have the opportunities to apply for those positions for the 2002-2003 school year.

"I expect to do a good enough job that there won't be a question about who is going to be principal next year," Bishop said.

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