Steamboat Springs Chris Taylor is settling in at The Lowell Whiteman School.
The new head of school, who started July 1, said he’s discovering new road bike routes and mountain bike trails, hikes every afternoon if he can, and fishes with his own personal guide, son Colin who works at Bucking Rainbow Outfitters.
Taylor said it’s a completely different world from where he last worked.
“Every time I drive into town, I think, ‘It’s not Wichita,’” he said.
Taylor joined Whiteman after a year as the interim head of school at the Independent School in Wichita, Kan. Taylor succeeds Walt Daub, who retired after 12 years as head of school.
Taylor, who spent 10 years at the Alexander Dawson School in Lafayette, east of Boulder, had been looking to get back to Colorado. The wealth of outdoor activities — “The nice thing about living in the mountains, there are so many toys to make life interesting” — isn’t the only thing he’s learning about in Steamboat Springs.
He’s learning about Whiteman, the school with competitive skiing and snowboarding and foreign travel programs. The school that attracts a well-educated staff that has a passion for the outdoors. The school with a unique culture and history.
“It’s one of the most unusual schools in the country in the programs it provides,” Taylor said. “If you’re 15 or 16, in addition to the outdoor programs, if you want a first-rate education, you can’t do better than this school.”
Margi Missling-Root, Whiteman’s director of experiential education, said Taylor asks a lot of questions, about the school, about the staff, about the students. She said it’s a good thing. She thinks it’s his way of understanding.
“He already has a sense of place for The Lowell Whiteman School,” she said. “That’s important to us. We want the head to love and cherish the heritage of the school. I think he does.”
And Missling-Root said Taylor, during his month on the job, already has challenged the faculty to make Whiteman the best place to educate students. She said he’s critical. He’s asked the faculty to evaluate what they do to see if there are better ways of doing things — to enrich Whiteman as an educational institution of high quality and high standards.
“It’s a matter of looking outside of what’s known and our standard approach to look at how we can improve what fits well and improve the values of education,” she said.
Whiteman Board of Trustees Chairwoman Nancy Ventrudo said Taylor met with trustees a couple of weeks ago. She said he’s off to a great start.
“We’re so excited to have him,” Ventrudo said. “It seems like he’s comfortable with what we’re doing and gets what we’re doing and is poised to be a great leader for the school. The board is very excited.”
Taylor said he and his wife, Ginger, still are about 50 boxes away from being moved into their home on the school’s campus off Routt County Road 36.
He just hopes he figures everything out before the students arrive Aug. 23.
“I’m most excited for kids to get here and get started,” Taylor said. “Personally, I find schools to be very exciting places. The energy that teachers and kids have is just phenomenal.”