It’s not just a job, it’s a homecoming

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE – New jobs can sometimes feel like an old pair of jeans – they’re more comfortable than they may have first looked.For Ken Haptonstall it was more comfortable then he could’ve hoped for when he took the new assistant superintendent’s position with Garfield County School District 16.For him, it was more like coming home.”It’s good to be home,” Haptonstall said sitting behind his desk, his hands clasped in front of him on top. “It was great growing up and going to school in the area.”His office at the administration building on north Parachute Avenue is spacious. Everything is in order, all squared away as if he’s been there for years.”I really want to be here for a while,” he said. “I have a lot of loyalty, and I want to stay around for a while.”Comfortable. Even though his house near Grand Junction is where he kicks his feet up.

“We like it there,” Haptonstall said. “And I don’t mind the drive, so it’s nice.”But he does have some family in the Grand Valley neighborhood to make it feel more like home.You probably guessed with a name like Haptonstall that he was related to Judy Haptonstall, the superintendent for the Roaring Fork School District Re-1. Judy’s his mother. His sister, Denise Greene, also works for Re-1 and is the head volleyball coach at Coal Ridge High School. “It’s nice having mom close by,” Ken said. “It’s neat to be able to call her up and ask her advice on things. She’s been through this before, so she knows.”Maybe that’s why his new job feels like an old pair of jeans. His 14 years of working at the Grand Junction School District 51 as a teacher at East Middle School and then as a principal at Fruita Monument Middle School may have something to do with it as well.”For me, I like working with the teachers,” He said. “That’s what I really want to do. It’s nice to be in a smaller district and get to work directly with the teachers on the curriculum. And you can also see the impact you’re having more immediately.”Garfield School District 16 has about the same size student body as Fruita Middle School, where he worked last year. He’s comfortable in smaller communities.”Fruita is a lot like Parachute,” Ken said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the folks in the community and hear what their expectations of the district are.”

But he probably already knows more people from Aspen to Grand Junction than he lets on. He grew up in New Castle and graduated from Rifle High School in 1985 and even played football and was the homecoming king his senior year.Is it possible to get more comfortable in this story?He’s always thinking about school, even when he’s not at work. That’s because during most of his time away from the administration building, he’s working on his Ph.D. in education administration. Or he’s coaching his sixth-grade son Tucker’s little league football team with his wife, Gretchen, who’s the progress monitor at Fruita Middle School.”We like spending time together,” Ken said.Ken smiled as he mentioned his younger son, Booker Thomas, who’s 2-years-old. The smile is consistent when he talks about his family.It’s comfortable.That’s why he enjoys his work; it’s like one big family.

Before he gets too comfortable, though, he’s gonna get to work.”I think the interesting thing about the job is that you never know what hat you’re going to wear from day to day,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”He’s comfortable.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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