A new principal for a new Rifle school | PostIndependent.com

A new principal for a new Rifle school

RIFLE, Colorado – Being picked to lead a new elementary school in its first year is a dream come true for Shawnda Zahara-Harris.

“This is a dream I’ve had since college,” said Zahara-Harris, who takes the helm of the Garfield School District Re-2’s new Graham Mesa Elementary School in Rifle after spending a year as the assistant principal at Rifle Middle School.

“One of my goals was to open a brand new school,” she said in a press release. “Those opportunities are few and far between.

“We get to create a learning community from the ground up,” Zahara-Harris added. “We have some of the best people around, and we get to build upon their strengths.”

Zahara-Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Great Falls in Montana, and a Master of Arts in education administration and policy studies from the University of Denver.

Before coming to Re-2 last year, she taught seventh grade on the Flathead Indian Reservation, eighth grade science in the Denver Public School system, and was the assistant principal at Twombly Elementary in Ft. Lupton.

Zahara-Harris is excited to lead Graham Mesa and to begin creating traditions.

“For students, they will know that we will celebrate all kinds of achievements small, big and in between,” she said. “They will know that we’re going to have fun while we learn, and that their voices will be heard and be an important piece of how our community operates.”

And for parents, “We will have an open door policy, and I want parents to know that if they have a concern, someone will be available to listen and to work on solutions.”

The 62,800-square-foot Graham Mesa Elementary is the final building as part of the district’s 2006 voter-approved bond program.

Its student body will consist of students who attended both Highland and Wamsley Elementary schools last year, and reduce overcrowding in those two schools.

According to the press release, Graham Mesa will use the same math program, Everyday Math, as its sister elementary schools and the same reading program, Success For All, that was used in several Re-2 elementary schools last year. The same program will be used districtwide this coming school year.

The teaching staff at Graham Mesa will consist of teachers from both Highland and Wamsley elementary schools, and the building is similar in design to the newer elementary schools in the district, including Silt’s Cactus Valley Elementary.

The community is invited to an open house at the new building at 6 p.m. Aug. 5 to meet Zahara-Harris and check out the school.

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