Ramirez: The ‘do whatever it takes to get the job done’ people, aka the principals of Eagle County Schools (column)
The man was as tall as a house, had a sharp nose, and his smile shone with bright white teeth. I met him on a cold winter day in 1971 when I was 6 years old. My family had moved into a new neighborhood during the middle of the school year. He extended one of his giant hands to welcome my parents and the Ramirez clan to Dingle Elementary School, and then he said in broken Spanish, but with a twinkle in his eyes, “Carlos, we are so happy to have you here.”
His name was Mr. Sides, and he was our beloved principal, a man I will never forget for his love of children and life.
Things have changed since then. A principal is much more than a welcoming figure at a school. In today’s climate of high-stakes testing, high expectations and ever-changing state and federal regulations, principals are expected to be instructional leaders, disciplinarians, budget analysts, community-builders, assessment experts, special program administrators and do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done people.
It can sometimes feel overwhelming, but through it all, principals go above and beyond for all of the children in their schools.
On any given day in Eagle County Schools, you will see our principals opening car doors, chatting with parents in the hallways, visiting classrooms, facilitating meetings, opening milk cartons, counseling students, visiting classrooms, cheering on athletes at games or playing with students during recess. They are everywhere! And these activities comprise only the visible portion of their job.
School principals are making memories with their students through their interactions with them and through the building of their school cultures. One day, I imagine many students will think back, reflect and recognize the impact their principals had on them, just as I have with Mr. Sides.
We are so proud of our principals for all they do, seen and unseen, for our school communities, so won’t you please help us recognize these leaders who positivity impacts the lives of our students, year after year, one child at a time?
• Dana Harrison: Avon Elementary School
• Robert Parish: Battle Mountain High School
• Amy Vanwel: Berry Creek Middle School
• Brooke Cole: Brush Creek Elementary School
• Kim Walter: Eagle County Charter Academy
• Tiffany Dougherty: Eagle Valley Elementary School
• Eric Mandeville: Eagle Valley Middle School
• Gregory Doan: Eagle Valley High School
• Matthew Abramowitz: Edwards Elementary School
• David Russell: Gypsum Creek Middle School
• Mitchell Forsberg: Gypsum Elementary School
• Stephanie Gallegos: Homestake Peak School
• Dr. Erika Donahue: June Creek Elementary School
• Troy Dudley: Red Canyon High School and World Academy
• Dr. Eric Olsen: Red Hill Elementary School
• Marcie Laidman: Red Sandstone Elementary School
• Wade Hill: Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy
• Sr. Mary Elisha Glady: St. Clare of Assisi School
• Jason Mills: Stone Creek Charter Academy
• Steve O’Neil: Vail Christian High School
• Mike Imperi: Vail Mountain School
• Geoff Grimmer: Zealous Schools
The effect that a school leader can have on his or her school community and the children under his or her charge is significantly important to the lives of children. Mr. Sides made his students feel safe, welcomed and supported. He retired after 25 years as a principal; I’m astounded thinking of the thousands of young learners he influenced.
So, let’s tip our hats and our hearts to all of our principals in Eagle County for all they do for our students.
Carlos Ramirez, Ed.D., is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.