Roaring Fork High in Carbondale has a new principal
CARBONDALE, Colorado Parents, teachers and school district officials went no farther than just a few blocks away to find the next Roaring Fork High School principal, selecting longtime popular Carbondale Middle School Principal Cliff Colia to take the helm, effective at the start of next school year.”We’re excited to have Cliff, with all of the experience he brings, take over at Roaring Fork High School,” Roaring Fork Re-1 School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said. “His connection to the community will be a huge benefit to the school, and to the community as a whole.”He has been around for a long period of time, and has earned his reputation in Carbondale as a school leader,” she said.Colia will replace Dale Parker, who recently resigned as RFHS principal after three years, effective at the end of the current school year. Colia was one of three finalists interviewed by a selection committee made up of parents, teachers and district officials.Going on 20 years with the district, Colia was an assistant principal at Glenwood Springs High School from 1989 to 1994, when he became principal at CMS. Prior to his work in the local school district, he worked as a special education program director for Mountain BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) along with serving as a director for several youth programs in Louisiana.He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Colorado in 2001 and has used his ties with CU to bring many opportunities to students at CMS.Colia said he understands the challenges that face Roaring Fork High School, which has fallen under criticism of late for failing to retain some of its top students, a number of whom have transferred to other area high schools, both public and private, seeking greater academic rigor.”We need to spend some time making sure the students in Carbondale go to school in Carbondale,” Colia said. “We want them to think of Roaring Fork High School as their first option for their secondary education.”He said he plans to address the issues of diversity with students, staff, and community, and “pump up the academic volume.” In other words, “getting the word out to the community about the great things that are already happening there and that will happen there in the future,” Colia said.”There is a great deal of potential with the teachers at Roaring Fork, and I know there’s potential with the students over there,” he said. “It’s time to take that on, and I’m excited to try to get it done.”I don’t see any reason why [RFHS] can’t be the best secondary institution in the whole district. It’s time to unleash the whole beast.”Though he’s enjoyed his time at CMS, which will be moving into the newly renovated former RFHS building on Snowmass Drive over the summer, he said the current teachers and staff are more than capable of making the transition go smoothly.”They have been used to operating in a creative, autonomous fashion for a long time,” Colia said. “A lot of times my job here [at CMS] was just to provide an atmosphere where they could be creative and thoughtful. When you do that with teachers, good things are going to happen.”Colia also said he hopes to a build a closer working relationship between the middle and high schools, so that there is more continuity.Current RFHS Assistant Principal Barbara Mason was also one of the finalists for the principal’s position, Haptonstall said, along with a third, out-of-area applicant, Mark Petz of Walden. Haptonstall said Mason indicated that she would like to continue as assistant principal.Haptonstall said a similar interview committee made up of parents, teachers and district representatives will immediately begin accepting and screening applications for a new middle school principal.
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