New principal takes the reins at BMHS | VailDaily.com
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New principal takes the reins at BMHS

Maisie Crow/Vail DailyBattle Mountain High School's new principal, Brian Hester, stands in front of the high school early Monday and encourages students not to be late to class.
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EAGLE-VAIL – School spirit means more than just “go team!” to Brian Hester.”I want to connect every student to something at this school,” new Battle Mountain High School Principal Brian Hester said. That, he added, requires pride in the place and respect for its people.According to some parents who have met him, Hester is off to a good start at Battle Mountain.”When Brian walked out of his interview, everybody said, ‘He’s the one,'” said Battle Mountain parent Barb Layman, who was on the search committee that interviewed candidates for the principal’s job.Getting that unanimity of opinion wasn’t easy, Layman said. “There were some things parents liked to hear that teachers didn’t, and that teachers liked but parents didn’t,” she said. Hester was the only candidate who brought smiles to all the interviewers.It’s both Hester’s personal style and the questions he asked before taking the job that impressed parents. During an open house for a handful of candidates for the job, a parent asked Hester if he had any questions for the community.”The first thing he asked a student was ‘Are you being challenged by your classes?'” said parent Susan Mackin-Dolan, who also on programs for gifted and talented students. “That’s when I thought, ‘This guy could work.'”Moving northWhile Hester has never run a high school before, he has held nearly every conceivable job in the Durango public schools. He’s been a teacher, coached all the major sports, has been the assistant principal at the high school there, and, for the past six years, was a middle school principal.”I was looking for a change, and I wanted to get back into a high school,” Hester said.And after spending more than 25 years in Durango, Hester was ready for a change of scene, especially since all three of his kids now live in the Denver area. A job in Eagle County makes it easier for Hester and his wife to visit the big city.

“But I really like this district,” he said, adding that he’s “intrigued” by the Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP. He also likes the size of Battle Mountain.”The school’s big enough to have the programs you want, but small enough to know all the kids,” he said. While getting to know every kid at a high school of about 700 students is tough, it can be done. “If a kid comes in as a freshman, by the senior year you should know that kid,” he said.He seems to have a good head start on knowing the students. Besides three trips from Durango for formal interviews, Hester made another half-dozen trips to Eagle County on his own just to see the school and meet some students. And one parent has noticed his knack for remembering students.While helping out with registration before school started, parent Debbie Robbins met a student who wanted to play soccer, but couldn’t because her family couldn’t afford the fees. She named and described the student to Hester and new Assistant Principal Anthony Barela, both of whom knew exactly who Robbins was talking about.”She was on the soccer team the next day,” Robbins said.A team playerOne of the things that Hester likes about TAP is the way it can build teamwork between teachers. And teamwork throughout the school is important to him. “We need a team approach to educating students,” he said. That approach requires both student and adult leaders and coaches, Hester said. The result boils down to something he calls “high expectations/high support.” And that takes a lot of work.”We need to ask what kind of culture we want,” Hester said. That means students know what’s expected of them, and, in return, what students can expect from the staff. The central focus of those expectations is student achievement.”We need to make sure kids are making growth,” Hester said.

That’s going to take work. But, it seems, Hester has hit the ground running. “He seems to have his sleeves rolled up and is ready to work,” parent Bruce Drum said. And that work is going to take some long hours. Hester seems to already be working on that extended schedule.”He called me at 9:30 p.m. from his cell phone to return a call,” Robbins said. “It was his first day at work. That’s a dedicated principal.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.============Who’s new?Principal: Brian HesterAssistant Principal: Anthony BarelaAthletic Director: Richard Houghton



Dean of Students: Lance Kircher-Pratt====================================A fun factBrian Hester has been a teacher and a coach for a long time. How long?He’s either taught or coached both his immediate supervisor, Mike Gass, and his top deputy, Anthony Barela, while both were high schoolers in Durango.===================Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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