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Thomas Slappey joins Garfield Re-2 School Board

The search for a new member on the Garfield School District Re-2 Board of Education ended last week as Rifle’s Thomas Slappey was named to the seat.

Slappey will join the board for at least the next several months after former board member Shirley Parks resigned on Feb. 12.

With two children at school in the district, a son at Rifle Middle School and a daughter at Graham Mesa Elementary School, Slappey said one of the main reasons he applied to the opening was he has such a vested interest in the school system.

“If people don’t step up and do these types of things, nobody is going to do it,” he added.

Slappey has never held an elected or appointed office in his community, but as business owner and senior account manager for Ryerson Inc. his experience dealing with budgets is what ultimately led the school board to pick him.

“I think all the candidates would have been good, and I think it goes with a gut feel and who would mesh with us right away,” Re-2 Board President Jay Rickstrew said at the April 9 board meeting prior to the vote.

He added that the new board member will have a lot of work to do.

“It’s a short time frame,” he said.

In the end, board member Brock Hedberg nominated Slappey and pointed to his background managing budgets as the reason he was the best choice.

Slappey said his goal over the next few months is just to learn as much as he can as the District A seat will be up for election in November.

“I don’t know if I have an intent to run again in November, but I look at it as an opportunity to learn and understand what is in front of us as a community,” he said.

Slappey’s first official board meeting will be April 23.

Q&A: Glenwood Springs Middle School Principal Joel Hathaway

Continuing our interviews with Roaring Fork Schools principals, Joel Hathaway, principal of Glenwood Springs Middle School, shares his thoughts on engaging the community, his favorite moments as an educator, and the differences between schools in Colorado and North Carolina.

You’re coming up on four years as principal at GSMS, and four years in Colorado. In that time at the school, what lessons have you learned about education?

I started my career as a school leader in North Carolina and spent five years as a middle school principal there. I came here having learned the importance of structure, organization, keeping a good calendar, and keeping people on the same page.

What I’ve learned from students, teachers, the community and my colleagues here in Glenwood Springs are lessons about the importance of keeping culture first, intentionally tending to a community where everyone belongs, and everyone feels safe, the importance of building trust, the importance of active listening, and the importance of seeking many voices and perspectives in decision-making. 

How do you engage parents and community members in decisions for GSMS? 

By listening. This isn’t a natural strength for me. If I’m not careful I can get distracted easily and I can find myself in a conversation where I am accidentally thinking about something else entirely — that can get really awkward.

The first step to engaging stakeholders in decision-making is to be an active listener, and I’ve been intentional about trying to recognize that weakness in myself and improve on it. I think its important to remember that even though sometimes people have differences of opinions on how to reach our goals, or even what our goals should be, we always have a solid common ground: We love our kids. We want the best for them. We want them to be happy.

Sometimes at GSMS we joke that we are the most “committee laden” organization of all time. We have leadership teams for our overall school vision planning and goal setting, our supervision plans and day-to-day operations. We have focus groups. Every teacher is a member of a group with a voice. We also have a Parent Voice Committee that meets regularly, my door is always open to parents, and I am sure to keep everyone in the loop with the infamous 6 p.m. Sunday phone call. 

Are there any major differences in public school education in the American south compared to Colorado? 

I believe schools reflect society, so any of my observations probably have more to do with subtle differences in how people interact and not so much in how public education functions.

People in Colorado have an adventurous spirit, are drawn to the natural world for inspiration, and have a healthy tendency to resist heavy-handed authority. Our schools reflect that. On a more serious note, if Asheville, N.C., had the type of winter we had this year in Glenwood, school would have been closed from New Year’s until Spring Break. I love sending pictures of snow-covered buses and bundled up students to friends back home with the caption “Not a Snow Day.”

Would you describe a few of your most rewarding moments at GSMS?

My most rewarding moments always come when I am watching a student give their all and do their best and accomplish things they didn’t know they could accomplish. Our Celebrations of Learning are moments like this for me. Listening to our band and our choir, watching our basketball team. Better World Day, when our students reach out to specific community members and groups to serve.

Last year, after Parkland [Florida school shooting] when students across the country walked out in protest of school violence and I asked our students to not participate but they did anyway by walking our of school, circling up around our flag pole and telling stories of how violence affected their lives – that was an extremely proud and rewarding moment for me. A moment I will never forget.

It could be as simple as hearing a student explain the significance of what they are learning — these types of moments give me little chills. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges teachers face in the Roaring Fork Valley

If you watch the news you know that teachers across the nation are speaking up around issues of professional respect and salary. The cost of living and particularly housing costs are particularly challenging in our beautiful valley.

What is one thing you hope GSMS students learn before starting high school?

Academically middle school students need to start high school with executive skills — knowing how to access information and discern truth from non-truth and how to keep track of their responsibilities as students. 

But I also want our students to know that they can and should change the world — I hope our students have a strong grasp on the deep responsibility that comes with the potential of being a change agent. I want our students to learn that treating others with compassion and kindness is the best path toward a better life and happiness. I want our students to complete middle school knowing that there are many people in the community who love them, want to help them and want to listen. 

CMC Rifle first Fire Academy to graduate this May

Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus will celebrate its inaugural Fire Academy I graduating class of nine this May, after a partnership with the Garfield Fire Training Consortium. The Fire Academy I certification program prepares cadets with the fundamental skills and experience to pursue entry-level fire service positions.

The class has participated in live fire training courses, alongside area fire departments, for the past several weeks. All of the lead instructors and fire science technician staff are CMC employees as well as employees with local fire departments.

On April 2, the academy spent the evening at the Glenwood Springs Fire Department training facility near the municipal airport. They trained for the scenario of a structure fire, learning basic firefighting methods conducted in a safe manner.

“It’s a pretty exciting thing for all of us,” said Denny Hostetler, who is a lead instructor for the program, and a lieutenant with the Glenwood Springs Fire Department.

Preguntas y respuestas con la directora de Bridges High, Lyn Bair

La directora de Bridges High School, Lynn Bair, sostuvo una conversación  con el personal docente y administrativo de la escuela, el martes por la tarde.

El Post Independent continúa con una serie de entrevistas a los directores de high school en el distrito escolar del Roaring Fork. Esta semana, la directora de Bridges High School Lynn Bair, quien tiene una larga trayectoria en el distrito, habla acerca de los retos y las alegrías de enseñar en una escuela alternativa.

En tus 15 años en Bridges y tus 25 años con el distrito escolar, como ha cambiado tu acercamiento educando a adolescentes frecuentemente vistos como de alto riesgo y problemáticos?  

He mantenido una fuerte convicción en elecciones, pero se ha convertido  en un compromiso que ofrece opciones más seguras, saludables y enfocadas hacia los estudiantes. Sigo creyendo en vivir con compasión, pero he estado comprometida en una visión restauradora con los estudiantes. He ajustado mi postura de “Voy a mostrar respeto a mis estudiantes” a, “Voy a ganar el respeto de mis estudiantes”.

A través de los años he aprendido a estar atenta a las situaciones que causan estrés a nuestros estudiantes. Estoy más preocupada por el trauma y la enseñanza restauradora.  Sigo creyendo que las personas tienen el derecho de ajustar el curso de sus vidas, o que quizá se les deba ser otorgada la oportunidad de empezar de nuevo.

Bridges High School da a muchos estudiantes la oportunidad de empezar de nuevo. Estoy segura de que todos los estudiantes pueden aprender si nosotros, sus maestros,  realmente estamos dispuestos a responder a sus necesidades. No podemos permitirnos continuar enseñando con un molde predeterminado. Nuestros estudiantes poseen talentos diferentes  a los de sus padres y abuelos, por lo tanto debemos estar preparados para enseñarles en formas no convencionales.

Muchos estudiantes son ignorados en nuestras escuelas. Algunos muestran un perfil bajo haciendo sólo el trabajo mínimo para no ser notados; ellos no disfrutan la escuela pero son obedientes.  Otros encuentran un poco de satisfacción en aprender pero son más susceptibles a lo que no les gusta, por lo tanto faltan a la escuela y fallan en las clases -es entonces cuando son notados.

Bridges High School está aquí para apoyar a todo tipo de estudiantes. En Bridges escuchamos a los estudiantes y a sus familias, y trabajamos para construir relaciones de calidad. Nos reunimos con cada aprendiz en el punto en el que se encuentre y les motivamos a que alcancen sus propios sueños.

Cuáles son algunos de los retos más inesperados que has enfrentado como directora de Bridges?

El reto más grande como directora de Bridges es convencer a las personas en nuestras comunidades que los estudiantes que asisten a nuestra escuela son maravillosos, brillantes, expertos en superar obstáculos y dignos de la estima de nuestra comunidad.

He trabajado muy duro a través de los años para cambiar la percepción  de la comunidad acerca de nuestra escuela y nuestros estudiantes. Creo que el cambio real puede suceder cuando las personas decidan descartar prejuicios en las ideas preconcebidas de quienes asisten a escuelas alternativas; y en lugar de eso ver el valor que nuestros jóvenes añaden a cambio en nuestra comunidad, al comprometerse de nuevo en su propia educación, ofreciendo servicio comunitario y tratando de hacer la diferencia para ellos mismos y para sus familias.

A la vez que trabajas como directora, enseñas historia del arte para la Universidad de Colorado. Cómo puede el estudio del arte ayudar a inspirar a los estudiantes de alto riesgo en high school a alcanzar sus metas académicas?

Amo la historia del arte!  Pero no estoy segura que este es un tema que todos los estudiantes necesitan aprender o a estar expuestos. Más bien todos los estudiantes merecen estar rodeados de maestros que amen lo que están enseñando.

Si hay algo, es mi entusiasmo por compartir el conocimiento que espero transferir, ya sea acerca de Leonardo da Vinci o resolviendo problemas algebraicos. El programa CU Succeed se esfuerza en ayudar a estudiantes en alto riesgo a demostrar habilidades para el college.

Amo historia del arte y si puedo ayudar a definir una especialidad en college para un estudiante, genial; pero si enseñando historia del arte puedo ayudar a los estudiantes a leer y a escribir y a pensar en alto nivel, y a crear para sí mismos amor por aprender, aún mejor.

Podrías describir los momentos más gratificantes en Bridges?

Por varios años los estudiantes “seniors” han participado en una entrevista final. Ellos comparten el porqué llegaron a Bridges y lo que han aprendido. Hablan acerca de los obstáculos que han enfrentado. Comparten acerca de sus planes futuros. Estas entrevistas son preciadas y tengo la oportunidad de escuchar las historias de nuestros extraordinarios graduados.

Los graduados de Bridges High School saben como mejorar sus vidas, y tengo completa fe que ellos continuarán mejorando su futuras familias y mejorando sus comunidades.

Estoy encantada de haber trabajado con maravillosas personas por los últimos 15 años. Ellos son talentosos, sobresalientes, introspectivos, inteligentes, ingeniosos, dogmáticos y dedicados. No soy la misma persona que era cuando empecé trabajando en Bridges High School, mayormente por la gente con la que he trabajado. Espero haber interiorizado las lecciones que muchos me han ofrecido y que lo que estoy regresando al mundo sea más profundo y agraciado.  

Inaugurar nuestro rediseñado edificio ha sido definitivamente algo sobresaliente. Estoy muy complacida con los espacios que creamos y la forma en la que este ambiente apoya la misión y la visión de nuestra escuela. Amé ser parte de este proceso por el cambio y la oportunidad ofrecida para una nueva perspectiva al aprender. Me sentí conmovida por el apoyo de la comunidad en nuestro “open house” y me encantó recibir reconocimiento de la mesa directiva de la escuela.

Cuáles retos ves como los más grandes a los que los maestros del Roaring Fork se enfrentan?

Ganar el respeto por la profesión que ellos han elegido, y ganar un salario competitivo por el trabajo que hacen. La razón por la cual este reto es vital para las comunidades del Roaring Fork, es porque estamos formando líderes para nuestras ciudades, estados y nación. Si invertimos en la gente que hoy está educando a nuestros estudiantes, estaremos entrenando líderes que estarán mejor preparados para guiar e inspirar exitosamente a otros en nuestro mundo que cambia rápidamente.

Cuál es una cosa que desearías los estudiantes de nuevo ingreso supieran o entendieran antes de entrar a la escuela preparatoria o “high school”?

Desearía que los nuevos estudiantes conocieran más sus propias fortalezas y debilidades. Deseo que ellos pudieran hablar más acerca de su futuro y que realmente creyeran que sus sueños pueden ser alcanzados a través de su esfuerzo y trabajo duro.

A new place for youth to get back on track

YouthZone ushered in a new era on Thursday as community members gathered for the official opening of the youth organization’s new building in downtown Glenwood Springs.

YouthZone, which provides youth programs, including diversion and support services in conjunction with law enforcement and the courts, hosted the grand opening of the new building at Ninth and Blake; the former Glenwood Springs Library location.

“My involvement with YouthZone started 40 years ago when I took my son to one of the first classes YouthZone offered,” Marci Pattillo, board president for the organization, said at the celebration. “I’m thrilled to be here with you.”

YouthZone officials hope the new space will serve as a Glenwood Springs base for future generations for years to come.

YouthZone Executive Director Lori Mueller said she thinks the new space will “offer us brand new opportunities that didn’t exist before.”

During the grand opening celebration, she called the process of acquiring, renovating and opening the new building a heartfelt community effort as community members across Garfield County donated time and money to see the project completed.

The organization purchased the building from the city of Glenwood Springs last year, providing 9,000 square feet on two floors for the organization to use.

While the cost of the building was around $900,000, according to Mueller, moving and renovation costs pushed the project to closer to $2 million. She said reaching that total was made possible only through community donations, which included $600,000 from the Garfield County commissioners.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said at the grand opening that he hopes YouthZone will spend another 100 years in the building. He explained that the commissioners invested in the project because they wanted to invest in the community.

“It’s an investment in our youth and community,” Jankovsky said. “YouthZone gives [kids] the opportunity to make amends.”

He said that he’s known kids who got in trouble, went to YouthZone and now have big families and are positive contributors to society.

YouthZone serves over 1,000 youth and families per year from Aspen to Parachute through support services like teen and family counseling, substance use education and intervention, Restorative Justice and more.

Research shows that less than one in 10 clients re-offend during their time with YouthZone, according to the organization, compared with a state recidivism rate of more than 25 percent.


Regjo picked for college-wide academic dean role at CMC

EDWARDS — Colorado Mountain College scoured the country for six months to find someone to lead academics across the college system. Officials found whom they were seeking when they looked inward.

Kathryn Regjo, currently vice president and campus dean at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley in Edwards, is CMC’s new vice president of academic affairs. She starts her new college-wide position July 1.

“We are lucky in our mountain communities because of where we live and who chooses to live here,” Regjo said.

Because CMC doesn’t offer everything everywhere, Regjo will help ensure that academic offerings are “consistent in quality and creativity” across all the campuses, she said.


After a six-month national search, Carrie Besnette Hauser, CMC’s president and CEO, persuaded Regjo to at least think about the appointment. Regjo made the announcement earlier this week.

“I am a big believer that things happen for a reason,” Hauser said. “She has demonstrated time and time again that she has what it takes to lead successfully.”

Among her other experience, Regjo was president of a small college, Lincoln College of New England, a private residential college in Southington, Connecticut.

When Regjo steps into her new role, Kathy Kiser-Miller will focus on being vice president and dean of the Steamboat Springs campus. Kiser-Miller has been both a dean and led CMC’s academic affairs for several years.

Regjo will relinquish her role as dean of CMC’s Vail Valley campus.

“While we will miss Kathryn immensely at a local level, I am thrilled for the college as a whole that she will step into this college-wide leadership role,” said Chris Romer, the college’s trustee in Eagle County. “Her leadership at the Vail Valley campus has resulted in increased enrollment and increased community engagement.”


Among her new duties, Regjo will help CMC develop new bachelor’s degree programs. Last Friday, state lawmakers unanimously passed HB19-1153, giving CMC the green light to offer bachelor’s degrees in all sorts of fields, in addition to the five they now offer:

Bachelor of arts in education

Bachelor of applied science

Bachelor of science in business administration

Bachelor of arts in sustainability studies

Bachelor of science in nursing

What their new bachelor’s degrees will be remains to be determined — they’ll work with students as well as regional businesses and industries — but CMC leaders have a pretty good idea, Regjo said.

College leaders are eying opportunities in high-growth fields such as health-care fields, local government and secondary (middle and high school) education.

The programs will likely feature internships and experiential learning experiences that include theory and classroom work, but also real-world practice, Regjo said.

“The first goal is to understand what programs will have a community impact. Our students are local and they have opportunities for not just jobs, but careers,” Regjo said.


However, the possibilities are now almost endless.

“This allows us to be more responsive. We do that by listening to our community,” Regjo said.

Colorado Mountain College still costs around $2,500 a year, one of the best educational values in the country, Regjo said. If you get a Presidents Scholarship, $1,000 is knocked off that.

Polis signs bill to let CMC expand degree programs

Gov. Jared Polis last Friday signed a bill authorizing Colorado Mountain College to offer more than five bachelor’s degree programs.

The bill cleared both chambers of the Colorado Legislature unanimously, co-sponsored by a bipartisan team of Rep. Julie McCluskie and Sen. Kerry Donovan, both Democrats, and Rep. Jim Wilson and Sen. Bob Rankin, both Republicans.

Current CMC student Stephanie Beste testified during House and Senate Education committee hearings that offering more degrees at CMC will allow people to stay and invest in rural mountain communities rather than move to larger cities.

“I ask you to think about [people living in] our rural communities. Help them stay without the complete relocation of their families. Keep them here to receive their bachelor’s. Help us grow the people around us,” Beste said.

Beste, a nontraditional student and financial aid advisor at CMC, is seeking a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

CMC first started offering bachelor’s degree programs in 2010, and at that time was limited to only five programs. Under the updated law the college’s board will be able to set a new limit on the number of degrees offered.

“Based on the lessons we learned in offering those first five degrees, we are being asked again by local residents, employers and taxpayers to broaden our degree offerings to meet workforce demands,” CMC President Carrie Hauser said in a statement. “Doing so will also contribute to Colorado’s higher education master plan and help to sustain the state’s dynamic and rapidly changing economy.”

CMC’s current five bachelor’s degree programs are in nursing, elementary education, business administration, sustainability studies, and leadership and management.

With the expanded authorization in place, CMC plans to be selective and thoughtful about offering new degree programs. College leaders are considering degrees that would support employers in high-growth health care fields, local government and secondary (middle and high school) education, according to a press release.

Six questions with Bridges High Principal Lyn Bair

The Post Independent continues a series of interviews with high school principals in the Roaring Fork School District. This week, Bridges High School Principal Lyn Bair, a veteran of the district, talks about the challenges and joys of teaching at an alternative school.

In your 15 years at Bridges and 25 years with Roaring Fork Schools, how has your approach to educating the frequently overlooked troubled and at-risk teenagers changed?

I have maintained a strong belief in choice, but have become more committed to offering safer, healthier, directed choices to students. I continue to believe in living with compassion, but have been engaged in being more restorative with students. I have adjusted my stance from, “I will show my students respect,” to, “I will gain the respect of my students.”

Over the years I have become more aware of the array of issues that cause our students stress. I am more concerned about trauma and teaching resilience. I continue believing that people deserve the right to adjust the course of their life, or perhaps be given the opportunity to start that life over.

Bridges High School provides that restart for many students. I feel strongly that all students can learn if we as their teachers are willing to be responsive to their needs. We can’t afford to continue to teach in a cookie-cutter way. Our students have different gifts than their parents and grandparents, so we must be ready to teach them in unconventional ways.

Many students are overlooked in our schools. Some keep a low profile doing just enough work to not get noticed; they don’t enjoy school but they are compliant. Others find little joy in learning but are more open about their dislikes so they skip school and fail classes — then they get noticed.

Bridges High School is here to support all types of students. At Bridges, we listen to our students and their families, and we work to form quality relationships. We meet every learner where they are and encourage them to reach their own dreams.

What are some unexpected challenges that you’ve encountered as Bridges principal?

The biggest challenge as the principal of Bridges High School is to convince people in our communities that the students who attend are wonderful, brilliant, masters of overcoming obstacles, and worthy of community esteem.

I have worked hard over the years to change the community perception of our school and students. I believe that real change can occur when people are willing to discard prejudice and preconceptions of who attends an alternative school and instead see the value that our young adults are adding back to their communities by re-engaging in education, giving community service, and trying to make a positive difference for themselves and their families.

In addition to your work as principal, you teach art history for a University of Colorado dual-enrollment program. How can the study of art history help inspire at-risk high school students to achieve academic goals?

I love art history! But I’m not sure that it is the subject that all students need to learn or be exposed to. Rather, all students deserve to be around teachers that love what they teach.

If anything, it is my enthusiasm for sharing knowledge that I hope to transfer, whether that is about Leonardo da Vinci or solving algebraic problems. The CU Succeed program strives to help at-risk learners demonstrate college ready skills.

I love art history and if I can help define a college major for a student, great; but, if by teaching art history I can help students read and write and think at a higher level, and create for themselves a love of learning, even better.

Would you describe a few of your most rewarding moments at Bridges?

For the past several years, Bridges High School seniors have participated in an exit interview. They share why they came to Bridges and what they have learned. They talk about the obstacles they have encountered. They share about their future plans. These interviews are precious and I get to hear the stories of our extraordinary graduates.

Bridges High School graduates know how to better their lives, and I have complete faith that they will continue improving their future families and their greater communities.

I am delighted to have worked with wonderful people over the past 15 years. They are talented, outgoing, introspective, intelligent, witty, opinionated, and dedicated. I am not the same person I was when I started working at Bridges High School, mostly because of the people I have worked with. I hope that I have internalized the lessons that many have offered to me and that what I return to the world is more thoughtful and gracious.

Opening our redesigned building has definitely been a highlight. I am pleased with the spaces we created and the way the environment supports our school mission and vision. I loved being part of the process for this change and the opportunity it offered for a new look at learning. I was touched by the community support at our open house and loved receiving praise from the school board.

What do you see as the greatest challenges Roaring Fork teachers face?

Earning respect for the profession they have chosen, and earning a competitive wage for the work they do. The reason this challenge is vital to our Roaring Fork communities is that we are raising future leaders for our cities, states and nation. If we invest in the people that are tutoring our students today, we will be training leaders who will be better prepared to successfully guide and inspire others in our quickly changing world.

What is one thing you wish freshmen knew or understood before starting high school?

I wish freshmen knew more about their own strengths and weaknesses. I wish they could talk about their future story and really believed that their dreams can be achieved through effort and hard work.

Garfield 16 schools grow outdoor programs

It just got a little easier for Garfield 16 instructors and parents to facilitate more outdoor time for students, as the district unveiled its new outdoor classroom and dome for elementary and middle school students on Tuesday.

At the end of 2017, Garfield County was one of nine communities to receive a grant for its Great Outdoors Colorado Inspire Initiative. Garfield County’s coalition received $1,570,541 over three years.

The grant money will be used for a wide variety of projects to get children and youth outside, including the recently unveiled outdoor classroom at Bea Underwood Elementary School.

Meredith Burke, who serves as hub coordinator between the Garfield 16 and Re-2 school districts, said the outdoor classroom is one of two capital projects that will be constructed in Parachute. The new facility was identified both by students and staff as something that would enhance learning.

Burke said it provides students the opportunity to be outside and learn in a different environment, and to not be in an enclosed classroom all day.

“We’re really hoping kids take advantage of this unique expeditionary environment,” she added.

According to the Outdoor Classroom Project website, outdoor classrooms provide hands-on experiences, physical activity, and social-emotional growth through peer interaction.

Clint Whitley, who serves as a science instructor for Garfield 16, said the outdoor classroom will provide a different learning environment for students and said gardening is what he’s heard is what kids most want to use the space for.

“This is an idea that came from the kids and the teachers,” he explained. “[It will provide] easy access for kids to get their hands dirty and learn outdoor skills like gardening.”

The outdoor classroom comes with 16 garden beds, which will be used for planting fruits and vegetables and is based at the elementary school, according to Burke.

The growing dome space, located at Grand Valley Middle School, also has several raised garden beds, as well as an aquaponic tank and other tools for science classes.

“We hope to use the dome for expeditionary learning projects,” Burke added.

Whitley said there are several seventh- and eighth-graders currently using the dome for a project testing the scientific method.

“A classroom doesn’t need to be four walls and a chalkboard,” he added.

He envisions a wide variety of classes and instructors taking advantage of both structures, and writing classes may be held under the clouds outside to provide a different learning environment for students.

Although just unveiled, Whitley said a cooking class will be held at the outdoor classroom later this month for students, parents and anybody else who may want to learn about how and what best to cook while camping.

More information on the event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1138933529622499/

Anybody interested in signing up can RSVP with Whitley at cwhitley@garfield16.org.


Aspen School District hires new HR director

The Aspen School District announced Tuesday the hiring of attorney Molly Owens, a public defender in Glenwood Springs, as its new human resources director following a search that began in January.

A screening committee with the district fielded 19 applications for the post and whittled that down to seven candidates who were interviewed by teachers, support staff, school principals, administrators, Board of Education members and Aspen Education Association representatives, the announcement said.

Owens’ first day on the job is May 1; she’ll draw an annual salary of $120,000, according to the school district.

“The district was very fortunate to have so many qualified candidates apply for the position,” said Superintendent John Maloy in a statement. “However, in the final review of the broad-based interview team, one candidate stood out as the clear choice — Ms. Molly Owens.”

Owens’ hiring comes after then-human resources director Elizabeth Hodges resigned in January after the district learned the previous year she had been disbarred for committing unethical conduct as an estate-planning attorney in Missouri, where she also was criminally convicted for her work as a lawyer.

In its announcement, the district said it offered Owens the job after it conducted “extended reference checks of former and current colleagues and supervisors and background checks, including fingerprinting …”

Owens has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carroll College in Montana and a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder, with the concentration of her work in employment and labor law.

Owens served as an equal opportunity specialist with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Human Rights Bureau before moving to Colorado to serve as a public defender with the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. She currently serves as a senior deputy public defender in the Glenwood Springs office.

“Having grown up with a mother that worked for and retired from the public school system, I know how hard teachers work and how challenging the profession can be,” Owens said in a statement. “Consequently, I am looking forward to my new role and learning how best to provide encouragement and assistance to the teachers, support staff, and administrators.”

As part of her transition, Owens will have access to training and development seminars and coursework to obtain a professional in human resources certificate, membership with the Western Slope Directors of Human Resources and the Colorado Association of School Personnel Administrators, in-district training from the acting director, and mentoring from current district administrators, according to the announcement.