This school has principals |

This school has principals

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. PearsonConnor Strait, 9, and Uriel Corral, 10, sit together dressed as miniature versions of principal Bill Zambelli during the Success For All reading period at Kathryn Senor Elementary School Thursday. Teachers and students at KSE all dressed up as principal Zambelli, as he will be retiring at the end of the school year.

NEW CASTLE-A group of about 20 small bandits hid in disguise under a desk, behind chairs and in dark corners of a small office Thursday. They wore dark mustaches and used sly, under-cover wardrobes.Julie Knowles’ preschool class waited for principal Bill Zambelli in his office at Kathryn Senor Elementary School. “Surprise!” the 4- and 5-year-olds yelled, not quite in unison, when their principal walked through his office door. It was Bill Day at Kathryn Senor.Wandering down the halls of Kathryn Senor may have been frightening to an outsider. All the teachers and almost all the students displayed the same unusual sense of style. They wore dark blue shirts, dark pants, goofy ties and bushy mustaches. The teachers referred to each other as “Mr. Zambelli.” And even the women and girls looked disturbingly like the suit-clad and smiling middle-aged man with dark features.

Bill Day was organized as a tribute to the principal, who resigns this year after 11 years as a principal in Garfield School District Re-2 and eight years at Kathryn Senor.”What do they say? Emulation is the highest form of flattery?” Zambelli asked in his office after Knowles’ preschool class vacated, leaving behind piles of glitter and paper scraps. “The kids wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think highly of me. I take it as a compliment.”Knowles said the teachers wanted to do something to recognize Zambelli for all he’s done at the school.Students were happy to participate as well. Fourth-grader Kelsey Fauser’s mom used eyeliner to scribble a mustache onto Fauser’s upper lip Thursday morning. Fauser said she likes Zambelli as a principal because he is always easy to talk to and he’s funny.”He doesn’t get nervous around people,” Fauser said.

Third-grader Josh Brown said he would miss Zambelli when the principal’s gone next year.”After school, if you ride the bus you have to give him a high five when you walk by him,” Brown said. He said he would also miss seeing Zambelli in the lunch room every day.Zambelli said he tries to interact with the students as much as possible. “There’s a method to my madness,” Zambelli said. “I want to establish a strong relationship with the kids because I think that helps a child succeed.”He always seeks a physical connection with students. He wants them to feel like they can go to him for a hug any time, and he always gets a high five.

Zambelli’s background is in psychology, and he worked for a long time as a school psychologist. That’s something his replacement has in common with him. Dave Lindenberg, the assistant principal at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, will take over for Zambelli next year. He was also a school psychologist.”I think he’ll do a great job,” Zambelli said.Zambelli will miss Kathryn Senor, especially the kids, he said. But he’ll still be in the area, and he expects to help the district by mentoring new principals next school year.Thursday’s event was a surprise for Zambelli. He had an inkling, but not much more, he said.”Five-year-olds don’t keep secrets very well,” he said. “They would always come up to me and say, ‘We know something you don’t know. We know something you don’t know.’ But I didn’t know what they were planning or when.”

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