Vail Valley elementary schools welcome new principals |

Vail Valley elementary schools welcome new principals

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyNew Principal Missi Carpenter, left, shares a moment with student Ana Sofia, 9, during lunch break Friday at Meadow Mountain Elementary in Eagle-Vail, Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Missi Carpenter likes camping and hails from city nicknamed “the little Berkeley.”

Jill Pappas loves cooking ethnic food and grew up in a Utah mining hub.

Those are a few little-known facts about these new principals at Vail Valley elementary schools. Carpenter and Pappas chatted with the Vail Daily about their new roles and life outside the classroom.

Meadow Mountain’s new principal

When Carpenter was a little girl, she played school nonstop. So it’s no surprise she followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a teacher.

She took the helm of Meadow Mountain Elementary in Eagle-Vail this school year, bringing 13 years of teaching experience at Eagle County schools. Carpenter has taught at Gypsum, Red Hill and Edwards elementary schools, plus Eagle Valley Middle School.

When the principal job opened up at Meadow Mountain, she applied right away.

“I love the small school status, I love the expeditionary learning program and the diversity in the population, so when I heard about the opening, I immediately knew I wanted to interview for it,” she said.

Carpenter replaces Kathy Cummings, who held the job for four years before being transferred to a district-level counseling position. She speaks near-fluent Spanish, which she uses to communicate directly with Spanish-speaking parents.

Originally from the diverse college town of Lawrence, Kan., Carpenter takes an open-minded approach to life. When she isn’t working, the 37-year-old Gypsum resident likes to spend time outdoors with her daughters, who are 3 and 9.

“We just love to get out as a family,” she said.

Red Hill’s new principal

Pappas lives in the Cotton Ranch neighborhood just a few blocks away from Red Hill Elementary in Gypsum, where she started this year as principal.

She moved to the valley last school year because her husband got a job working for a local mine. She served as a master teacher at Meadow Mountain before moving to Red Hill.

As a principal, Pappas especially enjoys working with curriculum. She likes how the role of principals has evolved to include more data-driven research.

“In the early years, the principal dealt with policy and discipline and the budget,” she said. “The principal role has changed dramatically.”

Pappas replaces Teresa Bandel-Schott, who held the job for a year before being transferred to a district-level special education role.

Since the school year started, Pappas has ushered in a few changes. She moved third-graders from the modular classrooms into the main building and re-arranged the classes so each grade has a uniform schedule. Pappas even re-organized traffic in the school parking lot after she heard cars were backing up into Valley Road.

Growing up in Price, Utah, Pappas decided early on to become a teacher. She boasts 23 years of experience in education, mostly at elementary schools in Price and Nevada.

When she isn’t in the school, Pappas, 45, spends time in the kitchen. She’s Italian and Lebanese; her husband’s Greek. They enjoy cooking foods from their cultural heritage – everything from baklava to tabbouleh.

“I was brought up with a lot of cooking and the family being together around the table,” she said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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