Once a Devil, always a Devil
This year will be Mark Strakbein’s last at the helm of Eagle Valley High School.
Strakbein, who has served as EVHS principal for eight years, has announced he intends to retire from the position at the conclusion of the current school year. But that decision doesn’t mean that he’s done with the school, the community or education.
“For a long time, I have had about some goals about retiring and where I am right now,” said Strakbein. This fall, he will celebrate his 50th birthday and Strakbein said he always wanted to mark that milestone by trying something new. Maybe that something new will be tied to teaching or maybe it will be a job in leadership consulting.
“I will miss telling stories so I will have to find a new audience to tell stories to,” said Strakbein. “Change is good. I have never been afraid of change.”
Strakbein began his career with Eagle County Schools 17 years ago. He spent his first year as a physical education teacher and a coach at Battle Mountain High School. He came to the school with a background as a head wrestling coach, and he always jokes that his wife, Karen, wouldn’t let him go to the state wrestling tournament for five years after he left coaching because he would be tempted to go back to that job.
After one year in the classroom at BMHS, he was hired as the school’s principal. He served in that capacity for four years. When Strakbein left BMHS it was to establish a new alternative high school for Eagle County School. He helped create Red Canyon High School and remained as the school’s principal for four years.
Eight years ago, Strakbein took over as the principal at Eagle Valley High School. His tenure at EVHS has been the longest stint in his career.
“I’m just so proud of all that our staff and students and our school community has done over the past eight years,” said Strakbein. “I am proud to have been a part of it.”
During his time at EVHS, the school has seen a significant enrollment increase and undergone a massive renovation. Last year, Strakbein was named Colorado High School Principal of the Year.
When asked what he believes is his biggest contribution to the school, Strakbein cites his message to students and staff to believe in and be part of something bigger than themselves. He said he will take on that challenge himself as he prepares for the next stage of his professional life. Strakbein said he and his wife intend to remain in Eagle.
“Karen and I love our place in Eagle. We have been here for 16 years, now. We first came here because we wanted to raise our kids in a small-town environment and we still enjoy that environment,” he said.
While he is leaving as the school’s principal, Strakbein said he plans to volunteer time with the newly formed EVHS Foundation. “The foundation will provide additional opportunities for EVHS students and staff,” said Strakbein. “I am truly excited about it.”
As the father of three EVHS graduates, Strakbein said he will always feel a personal connection to the school.
“I will miss the staff terribly and I will miss the students terribly,” said Strakbein. “But I will always be a Devil, through and through.”