Hemmen is lead candidate to head Ross Montessori
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Former Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal Sonya Hemmen is the lone finalist to become the new head of school for the state public charter Ross Montessori School.
The school announced on its website recently that Hemmen received a unanimous recommendation from a search committee that was charged with reviewing 23 applicants.
The position came open at the end of the school year, after founding head of school Mark Grice informed the RMS board of directors in February that he would be leaving after six years to pursue other opportunities.
The board, on May 24, tentatively approved the search committee’s recommendation and intends to formally offer Hemmen the job on June 8, following a mandatory 14-day noticing period required by Colorado’s Open Meetings law.
“It was an exhaustive process, and the diligence of our committee was thorough,” search committee chairman and RMS board member Charlie Cook said. “We were thrilled that [Hemmen] happened to be available, and we believe she will fit the needs of the school.”
Out of 23 resumes received, the search committee solicited essay questions from 12 candidates, conducted phone interviews with seven candidates, school tours with four, and had in-person interviews with three candidates.
“They then undertook comprehensive reference checks on the remaining finalists,” according to the notice. “The committee came to a unanimous decision to enthusiastically recommend Sonya Hemmen as the lead candidate.”
Hemmen was in her eighth year as principal at GSES when she was suspended by Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall in late March, prompting a public outcry among many parents and other supporters of Hemmen.
The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education, at an April 6 meeting, upheld the decision and subsequently decided to not renew Hemmen’s contract for next school year.
Neither Haptonstall nor the school board gave a specific reason for the suspension and nonrenewal, citing confidentiality in personnel matters, even though Hemmen had asked that the matter be made public.
Hemmen had been eligible to take a teaching position in the Re-1 school district and was considering her options when she said she was encouraged to apply for the RMS position.
“I have a lot of Montessori philosophy to learn still, but I am thrilled about the opportunity,” Hemmen said. “I have spent some time getting to know the parents and teachers, and I feel like this is going to be a great match.”
Based in Carbondale, Ross Montessori was formed in 2005 as a public charter school under the Colorado Charter School Institute, which is the Colorado Department of Education’s chartering authority. Charter schools can also be formed under the authority of local school districts.
The school draws students in grades kindergarten through eighth from Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties, and has grown under Grice’s leadership from 135 students to 220 students this past school year.
Meanwhile, District Re-1 is in the process of interviewing applicants for both the GSES and Sopris Elementary School principal positions in Glenwood Springs. An announcement is expected to be made on the new principals for the those schools soon as well.
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