Locals 2014: Kipp Rillos
They say you spend the first 10 years in Steamboat trying to figure out how to leave and the next 10 how to stay. After 28 years living here, Kipp Rillos doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
Following his move to Steamboat in 1986 after graduating from Colorado College, Rillos started out managing Beckett’s Drug Store, now Gondola General, on the mountain at night while skiing during the day. Approached by Colorado Mountain College to teach in the Ski and Snowboard Business Program, Rillos dove in, racking up experience in various programs. He spent four years as an adjunct instructor with CMC, seven years teaching full-time at Hayden High School and five years at Soroco High School before moving on to his current position as a business teacher at Steamboat Springs High School.
A third-generation teacher, Rillos always considered education as a potential career. In moving to Steamboat and educating youths, he saw teaching as a way to build a life here while still being able to pursue his interest in business.
Upon landing at Steamboat Springs High School, Rillos was greeted by a small internship program started by his predecessor, Gail Dudley. Tasked with reinvigorating the program, Rillos again jumped in. Starting with a mere 25 students, the program now has grown to host 81 interns, including 14 working at Yampa Valley Medical Center. Rillos has seen the community embrace these interns with open arms.
“We have a great business and professional community that is very supportive and diverse for our size,” Rillos says. “I’ve rarely had anyone say they couldn’t take on an intern.”
Danica Moss, the high school’s college and career counselor, has watched Rillos’ program build throughout the years. “It’s phenomenal,” she says. “His program gives kids the opportunities to explore their interests to see what they want to do beyond high school. They need experience to know what they want to do, and his program does just that.”
Internship sites include the hospital, vet clinic, Steamboat TV18, Cafe Diva, Integrated Community, Steamboat Pilot & Today and more. His interns have logged more than 750 hours at 67 job sites in the past year alone.
Rillos considers the program’s achievements to be primarily at the student level. In exploring their interests, students have gathered experience in all kinds of fields, with Rillos by their sides. They’ve designed buildings, improved business systems, published photographs and stories and seen babies born. The excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the program is infectious, he says, and “impossible not to get caught up in.”
“I think all of the interns come out the other end a little more directed as a result of the experience, either toward or away from the path they were exploring,” he says. “Both are a win.”
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