Kim Walter created a unified ‘vibe’ during her 12 years leading Eagle County Charter Academy

Teachers praise Walter's leadership style and her willingness to pitch in

Kim Walter (left) poses with staff and Michael Franti at the Eagle County Charter Academy. Walter served as the school's principal for 12 years.
Kim Walter/Courtesy Photo

As Eagle County School District closes out the school year and celebrates the graduation of the Class of 2023, it is also saying goodbye to four principals who collectively represent 80 years of experience in the district.

Eagle County Charter Academy’s Kim Walter is retiring after leading the K-8 school in Edwards for the past 12 years. Walter, like her outgoing peers, embraced the philosophy that a principal’s most important role is the ability to bring a school together.

“Human potential is best realized when we team our efforts around a young person,” she said. “I have been inspired by the dedication and endless drive that teachers, parents and communities put toward a child’s success.”

Specifically, the kindergartners were Walter’s favorite part of her principal job.

“After a difficult meeting or long day, I would go sit in the kindergarten classroom listening to the funny things they say and soaking up their positive energy,” she said, adding it was “crazy,” because she spent 10 years of her career as a middle school teacher.

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Serving a student body that represents a spectrum of identities, ages and needs was the most challenging aspect of the job, she said.

“Anytime you’re working with human beings it is complex, dynamic and constantly changing and evolving,” Walter said. “Knowing how to approach each situation, in the moment, in the best way for everyone involved is truly a challenge.”

When Walter was hired as the charter school’s principal in 2011, the school immediately began planning for the construction of its new building in Edwards.

Jennifer Sassi, the school’s office manager and director of admissions, said that while some plans were already in place, it was Walter that “navigated the layout and overall cohesive feel of our building.”

And within this unified campus, Walter also set about building a unified culture for the school.

“She created the ‘vibe’ so to speak. This vibe certainly filters down beyond the physical building as you can see and feel Kim’s leadership and presence on campus everywhere,” Sassi said. “She leads by example and stays true to our mission. When the students see their principal working hard, and exuding compassion, that matters.”

“No job is too small for her, and she’s willing to pitch in whatever it takes,” said Michael Moser, a teacher at the school who has worked alongside Walter for 11 years. “I have admired her professionalism, but also her ability to balance that with a sense of humanity and also a sense of humor.”

Kim Walter sits in a dunk tank at Eagle County Charter Academy. Walter’s colleagues praised her leadership style, which included leading by example and always jumping in to help.
Jennifer Sassi/Courtesy Photo

Zach Craven, a teacher at the school, said that Walter’s lasting impact would be the standard that she set “that staff, parents and students desire to meet.”

“It’s one thing to be held to a standard, but the culture at ECCA is that of rigor, effort and celebrated accomplishments,” Craven said. “She’s hired teachers, coaches, custodians, teaching assistants, librarians and more that are all on board with that exact same vision.”

For Craven, this is demonstrated in Walter’s style of leadership.

“It’s not authority, it’s not rah-rah leadership, it’s identifying and solving problems in a way that moves everyone in the same direction,” he said.

Creating community was critical for Walter from the start to the end of her time as principal.

“No leader gets to the end of their career alone,” Walter said. “There have been countless people along my path who provided support, shined a light, challenged me to dig deeper, and pulled me up by my bootstraps when needed. To my family, colleagues, staff and parent community, I am eternally grateful for all your support in allowing me to spend a lifetime doing what I love: working with children.”

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