Principal Q&A: Meet Sopris Elementary’s David Lindenberg
The Post Independent continues its occasional series of interviews with school principals in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
This week, we asked Sopris Elementary School Principal David Lindenberg to share a little about himself and his approach to leading a Glenwood Springs neighborhood school that has seen some changes in recent years.
You were a school psychologist in area schools before becoming a principal in Garfield Re-2 and now at Sopris Elementary. How did that provide a foundation for your current position?
Yes, I am lucky to have spent time working as a school psychologist in the Roaring Fork Valley for nine years, which gave me valuable experience seeing how various buildings and leadership teams operated and working with teachers in the classroom to support students with many different learning and social-emotional needs. This experience has served me well as a principal to better support students, staff and parents now. Further, I am grateful to the Kathryn Senor Elementary staff, Garfield Re-2 School Board and past superintendents who gave me support and the opportunity to develop as both a school leader and district office level leader for 12 years before returning to Roaring Fork.
You became principal at Sopris Elementary as the new Riverview School opened, which drew from the Sopris student population. How has the school adjusted to that change in terms of programming and staffing?
This is my second experience having a large school split down into two smaller schools. In both instances there have been predictable up-sides and down-sides. The smaller population size allows closer and stronger relationships across the board and allows us to be more responsive and nimble to individual needs. Of course, with downsizing come fewer resources, which just means we need to get more creative with staff roles.
You presented your school’s improvement plan progress report and strategic goals to the school board recently. What’s being done to improve academic performance and growth at Sopris?
Since starting here we have put a strong emphasis on the power of teamwork and engaging all stakeholders as a community in the common goals and work of our school. As an example, we started three leadership teams made up of staff to ensure constant improvement in instruction, culture/climate, and family/community engagement. We know research shows a correlation between these three areas and strong academic performance and growth for all students. Currently, we are focused on clarifying daily learning targets and success criteria with new state standards, creating clear behavior expectations in common areas of the building, training on restorative practices, and increasing parent engagement in school events and student work (ex. Back to School Night, STEAM Night, and Literacy Night).
Sopris is a true neighborhood school — in fact your family lives within walking distance. How do you work to engage that close-knit community in school decisions?
Our three leadership teams have been developing school goals straight from a community engagement process we ran last year, which identified common themes for student outcomes and a new vision for Sopris Elementary moving forward. Students, parents, staff and community were all part of this feedback process. The new vision statement synthesized from this work is: “We are a diverse community of engaged learners ready for the world!” Further, we integrate yearly survey feedback and elicit much ongoing support from our various parent volunteer groups: PTA, Accountability Committee, Wellbeing Committee, and Watchdog Dads.
Describe a few of your most rewarding moments at Sopris Elementary so far.
What I am most grateful for are the many relationships I have developed with students, staff and parents. This is such an amazing place, because of the people here. It has been my honor to be part of it and to help foster deeper ties between all who are part of this extended Sopris family. I believe that over time there will be nothing that we can’t accomplish together as a cohesive group.
What is the one thing you hope Sopris students will learn before moving on to middle school?
I want them to be happy, secure, and able to handle challenges in whatever form they may come, optimistically viewing them as opportunities for growth and learning.
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Courtney Hassell says she could have been completely disillusioned with schools and education, and in many ways she was, after an experience three years ago at Glenwood Springs High School.