School Views: Changing of the guard
I believe that what makes Eagle County School District a special place to work is our people. Our staff, from administrators to educators, from kitchen staff to bus drivers, are all part of the team that serves our community. No one member is more important than the next, and each contributes to the success of our organization.
We’ve been fortunate to see people throughout the district make their careers with us. That longevity helps to create relationships with students and coworkers alike, and truly emulates the values that are important to Eagle County School District.
I can appreciate the journey they’ve been on. I began my career as a social studies teacher at Battle Mountain High School before spending three years as the assistant principal and then as principal for six years. From there, I moved into an assistant superintendent position, then interim superintendent, before ultimately moving into my current role as the superintendent.
Every year, as we get closer to spring, we ask all employees what their plans are for the following year: whether they’ll be returning, retiring or moving on to whatever is next. This year we’ve learned that four of our amazing principals will not be returning for the 2023-24 school year. Eagle County Charter Academy Principal Kim Walters, Eagle Valley High School Principal Greg Doan, Red Sandstone Elementary School Principal Marcie Laidman, and Red Canyon High School Principal Troy Dudley have all been with us for many years, and will be greatly missed.
Three will be beginning their retirement, while one has found another exciting opportunity to pursue. We support each of them in their decision and thank them for their commitment and dedication to Eagle County School District and our students. Based on Colorado’s pension fund that many of our staff members work toward, we know we have other principals not far off in following them.
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This means we anticipate a new wave of administrators stepping into leadership roles, whether promoting from within or welcoming new people to our community. One position has already been filled, two of the others are in the interview process, and the fourth was just posted last week. Our website has all of our job openings throughout the year, and each position requires a resume and letters of recommendation as part of the application process. However, we do treat our screening of potential principals differently.
First, we meet with students, staff and parents of the departing principal’s school and ask them what they feel is important for their next leader. Our human resources department then screens all the resumes and selects the candidates that will be invited to an initial screening interview with a panel. This panel includes various staff members, some from the school and some from the district level.
We then host a meet and greet with our finalists where families, students, staff, and community members are invited to attend and ask questions of each of the applicants. Finally, I sit down with the candidates and conduct a final interview prior to consulting with our human resources team, the school staff, and any other stakeholders who have input they’d like to share. The ultimate hiring decision is made by me, as superintendent of Eagle County School District. As the culture and environment of each of our schools is unique, we believe that handling leadership hires in this manner paves the way to selecting the absolute best candidate for each individual school.
We’re excited for our principals that are moving on and appreciate everything they’ve given to our community. We’re also excited to look to the future and welcome the next round of principals to Eagle County School District. Their fresh perspectives will shape our organization for years to come.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County School District. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.