New principal brings sense of fun to Eagle school
Eagle, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado – To say John Trinca knows small towns might be an understatement. Before he became principal of Eagle Valley Middle School this school year, he grew up in Hilt, Ore., population 19.
His family ran the general store and worked in the sawmill in the tiny outpost.
So when it comes to understanding Eagle, a petite mountain town of 7,000, one could argue Trinca has a leg up.
“So many people have made us feel welcome,” said Trinca, who lives across the street from the school with his wife and two sons, ages 3 and 7. “It’s really a hometown feel in Eagle.”
No big city aloofness emanates from Trinca. Although he wears a tie on this particular day at the school, he also confesses, off the record, the name of his favorite professional football team. Though he’s made notes about his ideals for the school, he also stops in the hallway to help a girl struggling with her locker combination.
Deb Ramsay, a special education teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School, describes Trinca as fun. He goes outside during recess and stays afterschool for volleyball games, she said.
“Middle school is such a tough time for these kids and you have to have that lightheartedness,” she said.
Though he takes a fun approach, Trinca has serious goals for his sixth- through eighth-graders.
“I want to continue growing not just the students on the lower end of the achievement spectrum but also on the highest spectrum,” he said.
Trinca’s also taking aim at the achievement gap between the school’s Latino and Anglo students.
“We’re working on setting goals for students and looking at those goals each month,” he said.
Along with setting goals, Trinca continues to support the Vmath and CORE reading programs the school introduced last year.
If the school’s population continues to grow – right now it’s at 279 students – he’d like to add a Spanish class.
“I think that’s an important skill for kids,” he said.
During his college years, Trinca spent a few summers toiling in the woods with his uncle and realized logging wasn’t for him. His mother’s line of work, teaching elementary school, proved more appealing.
“I wanted to make a difference, as my mom had made a difference in so many people’s lives,” he said.
As the town of Hilt slowly dwindled after the sawmill closed in the ’70s, Trinca set out for higher education. He earned a bachelor’s in English from California State Chico. He also received a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University in Portland, Ore.
Trinca worked as a language arts teacher and school-to-work coordinator at Eagle Point High School in Eagle Point, Ore., before moving to Eagle to serve as assistant principal at Eagle Valley Middle School last school year.
He wonders about his penchant for living in places with the word “Eagle” in the title. Of course, it was more than the name that drew him to Eagle Valley Middle School.
“I had looked at Eagle County schools and I saw this as a progressive school district that was doing good things for kids,” he said.
The principal job opened up when Jerry Santoro retired after 18 years on the job.
When Trinca isn’t working, he likes to hike or ski with his family.
Learning to ski on short, icy runs on backwater mountains in Oregon, he developed an appreciation for powder.
“It’s been fun to ski on Colorado snow compared to the Portland cement we had in Oregon” he said. “That’s been a great experience for me and my two boys.”