Eagle Valley High School says goodbye to Greg Doan, a principal who set a devilishly high bar

Principal leaves a legacy of making sure school was an inclusive, supportive place for every student

Greg Doan addresses the Eagle Valley High School Class of 2023 during Saturday's commencement at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum.
Ben Roof/For the Vail Daily

Principals serve a unique role in schools, providing guidance and support for teachers, staff and students alike.

For Eagle Valley High School’s Greg Doan, his philosophy is simple: “You can’t high jump over a low bar.”

Doan, who will be moving to a new role as principal at Monarch High School in Louisville, certainly raised the bar during his 12 years at the Gypsum high school.

“I came here with the ideology and the intention to just try and create as many opportunities and high-level expectations — whether it’s for academics or athletics or activities — and just maximize everything we could do here,” said Doan, who is one of four principals across the district who is moving on as the school year comes to a close.

Doing this involved growing opportunities (like dual enrollment courses) and adding programs (like AVID, Project Bike Tech, Project Lead the Way, culinary and automotive programs and more) that gave students more opportunities to engage with the school.

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Greg Doan dances on stage at the 2018 Eagle Valley High School Graduation. His enthusiasm and spirit resonated with students and staff alike during his 12 years as principal.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

“I’m a big believer that everybody should find their place in school either through academics, athletics or activities,” Doan said. “Everything you offer gives another kid a chance to connect. So when you see yourself in theater that hopefully helps you in the classroom, too. Or if you’re an athlete, you can stay eligible because you’re in soccer, but that gives you a hook to then do better in your math class. Every opportunity was another place for a kid to feel like this was their home.”

Doan did this as the school grew from 700 students when he started to closer to 1,100 students in his final year. Of the high school’s approximately 80 staff members, Doan said he’s hired around 70 of them. With each growing year, the school could do and offer more, he said.

“I know this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I got to be so creative here, whether it was building new buildings or building up assemblies and stuff,” Doan said.

Ask a handful of the teachers at Eagle Valley about Doan’s impact and they all point to his creativity in creating these programs, assemblies, and overall school spirit he helped ignite at the school.

“He has a gift for engaging students, creating school spirit and school community,” said Tammi Boeke, a counselor at Eagle Valley.

Doan engaged the school’s teachers and staff in the culture and growth as well. Danelle Rivera, a social studies teacher at the high school, called his leadership transformational.

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“He does not make decisions in isolation. Usually, the staff is in on decisions or his department chairs or his instructional leadership team,” Rivera said. “He tries to really involve many different players into big decisions, which creates buy-in and allows kids to really understand that this is something that’s bigger than themselves.”

Justin Brandt, a teacher at the high school, said that Doan established many traditions that made the school and town better.

“He did a great job of creating a positive school culture through teaching cheers, crafting fun assemblies, creating many staff and student celebrations, hosting bonfires, being the DJ at our games, and celebrating during our concerts. He made sure our students knew that they have been a part of something bigger than themselves and that every student can and should get involved,” Brandt said.

Greg Doan dances at the Wish Week assembly at Eagle Valley High School in March 2023. Doan helped bring this program to the school, which raised over $100,000 in six years for Make a Wish. During his 12 years as principal, Doan brought numerous new programs and opportunities for students.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

Creating this culture often involved immersing himself in it.

This included performing in last year’s school musical, performing with the student band Trees Don’t Move, dressing in a thrift store outfit to perform a Macklemore song (or a Metallica song) for students, attempting to learn how to dunk a basketball to inspire students, cheering in the stands with students during sporting events and more.

“His energy for others was always on display,” Brandt said.  

Devin Dupree, a science teacher and department chair at Eagle Valley, said that in his 24 years in public education, “I’ve never had a principal before that has been willing to put themselves out there like that.”

“Greg is his own super unique individual that brings an energy and an enthusiasm to the campus,” Dupree said. “He’s a very visible principal. I’ve worked for principals that I don’t see for months at a time because they’re just locked in their offices doing work. Greg is out and he’s about and I think that’s an important legacy to leave as an administrator, is to be out there. The kids get to know their principal and understand that he cares about them, that he has a deep care for Eagle Valley.”

Rivera described this spirit as a “contagious enthusiasm” — suggesting it harkens back to his background as a mascot for Kansas State University. This, she added, “shines through in his effectiveness as a leader.”

“If Greg has a creative idea, he is going to shout it from the rooftops and he’s going to do everything he can to make that idea become a reality,” she said. “The impact is that anything that we do and put effort into is truly something that kids remember. It’s part of those memories that kids look back on years from now and remember the way it made them feel, whether it was feeling connected to the school as a community or it made them feel as if they made a difference.”

Rivera, as a former Eagle Valley graduate herself, has seen the full transformation of the culture that was created as a result of this type of leadership.

“We’ve gone from a culture where kids were hazed. Kids were, I don’t feel, always felt safe in their school environment to a school that is very supportive of being inclusive to all kids,” she said. “I think the mission that Greg was on is to make sure that every kid has something at least as a positive experience to look back on in their four years of high school here.”

Doan himself described his energy and identity in his final Eagle Valley graduation speech.

“When I see myself, when I see my identity, I see a caricature … For years, I’ve hidden the fact that I am actually a Muppet,” he said.

Greg Doan told the class of 2023 that he identifies as a muppet on Saturday, May 27. In the speech, Doan encouraged the students to embrace the parts of their identities that make them unique.
Ben Roof/For the Vail Daily

“I want you to know that I am at my absolute best when I absorb and I take in all the parts of me that are weird and different and strange because when I’m a Muppet, I am my happiest. So my charge to you, the Class of 2023, is whatever life brings you, accept those labels that describe you, move forward in life proud of who you are and all of your identities.”

This speech, Boeke said, summed up his strengths as a leader.

“He is most comfortable when he’s goofy and being himself and he’s at his best. And when he’s like that, he’s totally relatable to the students and they love him and they’ll engage with him. He’s great at creating memories with and for the students. He has a great overall vision for things,” she said.

Similarly, Rivera said this speech was the “perfect way to end his last address to the community.”

“Greg’s vulnerability speaks a lot to his leadership style. Greg is approachable because he presents himself as human and not as an authority in the sense of somebody who sits behind a closed door,” she said. “He admits his human fallibility in things, and that he too has to embrace sometimes that he’s not always the stereotypical idea that people have of a principal.”

Ultimately, it’s the community he helped forge that Doan will miss the most.

“I’m just going to miss so many people here and I’m so grateful for how they accepted me and allowed me to be the kind of leader I wanted to be here,” he said.

For Doan, as he reflects on his 12 years at Eagle Valley, his pride is held in the success of its graduates, including his own children.

“I’m incredibly proud to say my own two children are graduates of Eagle Valley High School and alumni here. Every opportunity I could have ever asked for them, my kids got that here. And so just knowing that other kids and families have been able to thrive and achieve and have great outcomes for themselves and that I got to be a leader of that — I’m very proud of that,” he said.

Plus, he added: “Ain’t it great to be a Devil?”

“I do feel like I’ll always be a Devil. I mean, how many times do you get to have a mascot that’s a baby Devil in a diaper? That’s something I’ll take with me,” Doan said.

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