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McDill to leave Glenwood Elementary

Glenwood Springs Elementary School’s conversion to an Expeditionary Learning model next fall will proceed without the principal who has headed the school for the past two years.

Penny McDill recently announced to school staff and Roaring Fork School District Re-1 officials that she will be leaving after the current school year.

But it’s not retirement, she’s quick to point out.

“I thought it would be a good time for the school, with the new EL model coming in, and it’s a good time for me to do something I have wanted to do before I end my career,” McDill said.

In fact, there’s a good chance McDill’s next pursuit in continuing her 30-year education career will land her back in Roaring Fork District Re-1 schools on occasion.

McDill is planning to work as an area supervisor for the next generation of future educators who are doing their student teaching in local schools.

Colorado Mesa University now places many of its student teachers in Garfield County and Roaring Fork Valley schools, she said.

And, she pointed out, Colorado Mountain College is also moving toward offering teacher certification through its four-year degree program. That will generate even more teacher trainees in the region.

“There is a need for someone in the mountain areas to fulfill that supervisory role,” McDill said. “I’d like to be able to have that experience, so it’s a good opportunity for me to do something I have wanted to do for a long time.”

Likewise, with the Re-1 school board’s recent decision to work with the national EL Schools organization to implement the expeditionary model at GSES, it’s a good time for a new school administrator to come in, she said.

“The EL model is a great model and this is an exciting time for Glenwood Elementary and the district,” McDill said. “But it makes sense to find someone with experience in expeditionary learning to lead the transition.”

Since it takes about five years to fully implement the EL model, having someone with past EL experience would be a bonus, Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko said.

“Our job posting does mention that we would love to have someone who has EL experience,” Sirko said. “There are no special requirements, but it would be an advantage for the students and the staff to have someone with that experience.”

EL Schools emphasize project-based learning in different subject areas through “expeditions,” both in and outside the classroom, including field studies and student involvement in community or civic projects.

The EL Schools organization works with more than 160 schools across the country, including both converted traditional schools and public charter schools.

McDill will be leaving Re-1 following two years as principal at GSES. That was preceded by six years as the assistant principal at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale and four years at Fruitvale Elementary School in Grand Junction. She was also a classroom teacher for 20 years in Wyoming.

In addition to the GSES principalship, Sirko said Re-1 is looking to fill two other school administrator posts before the 2013-14 school year officially begins in July.

Recently, longtime Sopris Elementary School Assistant Principal Joe Sprick also announced his retirement. And, Carbondale Middle School Principal Rick Holt is leaving his current position to take the new director of curriculum, assessment and instruction position with the District Office.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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