Schmid named Principal of the Year

Steamboat Springs High School administrator receives state's top honor


— For a man who prefers to avoid the spotlight, Dave Schmid has suddenly found himself the subject of great attention.

Schmid, Steamboat Springs High School principal, is the Colorado High School Principal of the Year. The Colorado Association of School Executives and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals made the selection.

"It really means Dave is the best of the best," CASE Executive Director Peg Portscheller said. "(The honor) makes Dave the grand Pooh-Bah."

As those who know Schmid might have expected, the humble principal was quick to deflect the praise.

"It's an honor to be recognized like that, but I think it's really an honor for our staff and the school," Schmid said. "I work with some amazing people."

Superintendent Cyndy Simms nominated Schmid for the award. Letters of recommendation from Simms, high school science teacher Cindy Gay and a high school student supported the nomination.

After the CASSP review panel narrowed the field to three finalists, Schmid sat down with the panel for a formal interview. The final decision was made in mid-March, Portscheller said.

The CASSP panel evaluated nominees using a variety of criteria, including results, accomplishments and contributions to the profession, Portscheller said.

"He really loves what he does," Portscheller said. "His focus and his deep concern for kids are just two of the many things that set him apart. For Dave, it's not really a job -- it's who he is."

Gay said Schmid is as good a principal as she has worked with in 21 years of teaching, including the last five years at Steamboat Springs High School.

"I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of principals, and he is one of the most committed, dedicated and caring professionals that I've worked with," Gay said. "He doesn't make decisions quickly or lightly. Everything he does is very thoughtful. All his decisions are based on what's best for the kids."

Schmid has worked hard to create a culture of communication at the school, where teachers talk and work together. The result is that teachers challenge each other to improve, Gay said.

Schmid, in his eighth year as principal of the high school, has seen numerous changes during his time here.

For one, more is expected of the school and his students than ever before, he said. The school has also dealt with a high turnover rate among its teachers and a major school-remodeling project.

Through it all, the school has continued to progress, Schmid said.

"We've really tried to create a community of learning in our school," he said.

As part of his award, Schmid and his wife will fly to Washington, D.C. in January with CASE officials for a black-tie reception honoring the principals of the year from all 50 states.

Schmid will automatically be considered for the National High School Principal of the Year award, which has been won three times by Colorado principals, Portscheller said.

Schmid will also be honored at a CASE function in Breckenridge this summer as well as an evening gala in Denver.

"He's going to be treated like a king over the next couple months," Portscheller said.

Portscheller will come to Steamboat sometime in the near future to present Schmid a trophy at a school board meeting, where the community will have a chance to honor him, she said.

All the coming attention may not best suit his personality, but it's about time he gets to stand on the podium alone, Portscheller said.

"He's such a humble guy and a person that gives credit to others," she said, "that it's nice to see him get his due."


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