AVON — The principal of Eagle County’s most improved school will head the Vail Valley Foundation’s educational division for new challenges.
Avon Elementary School principal Melisa Rewold-Thuon is the Vail Valley Foundation’s new vice president of education, and will head The Youth Foundation and all foundation education programs.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Melisa become the guiding force for all Vail Valley Foundation education initiatives,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s not often that you have the ability to bring in someone that is as well respected and accomplished throughout the community to lead your efforts.”
Rewold-Thuon will replace Susie Davis, who left the foundation in mid-October to focus on specific Youth Foundation projects. Davis was The Youth Foundation’s executive director from 2005-13 and helped coordinate the merger’s organization with the Vail Valley Foundation in 2012.
“Susie’s leadership, passion and commitment to the children of this valley is unparalleled, and she has proven to be an astonishing visionary,” Folz said.
Eagle County Schools Superintendent Jason Glass congratulated Rewold-Thuon.
“We congratulate the Vail Valley Foundation on an exceptional choice,” Glass said. “Melisa will do a great service to our community in this role and is supremely positioned to better coordinate services and supports for our students and families through the generous philanthropy of the foundation.”
Avon Elementary was floundering and failing when Rewold-Thuon took the helm. She led the school from “turnaround” status to a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in six years, one of only five Colorado schools and 269 schools in the country to win the award that year.
Of Avon Elementary’s 235 current students, 87 percent are not native English speakers and 206 qualify as low income, based on their eligibility for free/reduced meal programs, according to the school’s data.
The school had failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements the six straight years and was one year from being taken over by the Department of Education.
Rewold-Thuon took over and implemented dual-language instruction, English and Spanish. Students quickly became bilingual and so have the teachers; 75 percent of the faculty is bilingual. Students get information in their native language, then apply it in a second language.
Reading scores on standardized tests soared from 25.53 percent proficient and advanced in 2007 to 67.83 percent proficient in 2011. Math scores jumped from 38.85 percent in 2007 to 69.23 percent in 2011.
The last time Avon Elementary’s CSAP scores were that high, the student body’s ethnic makeup was almost the exact opposite of what it is now, according to the school district’s data.
The Vail Valley Foundation’s Youth Foundation provides tutoring and after-school athletic programs at Avon Elementary, along with music and dance programs, an extended-year program, after school programs, Saturday schools and enrichment programs.
Rewold-Thuon was selected as one of Colorado’s top 20 principals. She serves on the state’s Leadership in Action Committee and was president of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education in 2007.
She moves to the Vail Valley Foundation in March. The school district will appoint an interim principal for the remainder of the school year, and then run an open search in the spring, Glass said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.