Gypsum principal hired to take Gary Rito’s post at district office |

Gypsum principal hired to take Gary Rito’s post at district office

Cindy Ramunno

There will be a slight change in administration this summer at the Eagle County School District’s main office in Eagle. Director of Secondary Education Gary Rito has announced his retirement and Gypsum Elementary Principal Mike Gass has been hired to take over those duties.

Gass, who holds a masters degree in secondary science, has been in the district since 1992. Before that, he taught in Carbondale.

Gass began his career in Eagle County schools teaching secondary science at Eagle Valley Middle School and coaching football at Eagle Valley High School. His fellow coaches at the high school said Gass was known for his intense energy and passion for education.

“Kids responded well to Mike – he helped kids on the football field and in other areas of their lives,” says head coach John Ramunno. “Mike is people oriented – he works well with teachers, parents and students.”

After four years at Eagle Valley Middle School, Gass took over as dean of the Eagle County Charter Academy, a job he held for two years. Many, including Red Canyon High School principal Mark Strakbein, attribute the positive relationship between the charter school and the school district to Gass.

Support Local Journalism

“Mike has a great vision and energy for everything he does. He’s a builder – when he takes over, he always builds something great,” says Strakbein. “I’m very happy for the secondary schools in this district – Mike is the perfect fit for this position.”

Gass is in his sixth year as principal at Gypsum Elementary. He says his experience with a performance-pay program for teachers – also known as TAP – will help him in his new position.

“I recognize some of the pitfalls of TAP and I can help guard against those issues for the secondary schools,” says Gass.

He also says he’s excited to get back to where he started his career. The move will be good for him both personally and professionally, Gass adds.

“I want to create excitement around secondary education,” he says.

Schools Superintendent John Brendza says Gass’ understanding of the district helped him make the decision to hire him. “Mike is widely accepted and respected through the district,” says Brendza.

Brendza also says Gass is very knowledgeable in testing and assessment of testing at the secondary level. “He will be an incredible asset to our organization,” Brendza says.

Gass will finish the school year at Gypsum Elementary and will begin his new position at the district office on July 1. Gass lives in Gypsum with his wife, Marcie, and their two children, Reagan and Kade.

Support Local Journalism