20 Under 40: Brandon LaChance finds place at North Routt Charter School
CLARK — Brandon LaChance has found his calling at a unique public school in Clark and has no intentions of ever leaving.
At age 39, the principal and executive director of the North Routt Community Charter School just squeaked under the threshold for the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s 20 under 40 awards, but in terms of his career, LaChance is years ahead of most school administrators.
When: 5 to 7 p.m. July 26
Where: Haymaker Patio Grill
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LaChance was chosen by Governor John Hickenlooper in 2017 to serve on his new Educational Leadership Council along with the president of Colorado Mesa University and the chairperson of the State Board of Education among others. They are tasked with looking ahead in order to re-think what education can and should be in the future.
LaChance bases his leadership on personal relationships.
“I want my teachers to know that I love them, I care about them and I’ve taken the time to think of their wellbeing,” he said.
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LaChance feels the same way about the 95 students at the school. He takes groups ice fishing in the winter, and when the Elk River is ready in spring, they go fly fishing together right behind the school.
“We start the first day of school together as a family on the river,” LaChance said.
And the school principal will readily fill in for a classroom teacher or the school janitor, cleaning up a restroom.
“That’s the beauty of this school, at any moment of any day, if I feel like reading a book to a student, I can,” LaChance said. “We’re not living by our titles but living as people who are here for the kids.”
All of that freedom doesn’t detract from academic excellence at North Routt Charter School. LaChance is proud to report that his student body achieves exceptional scores on standardized test scores.
At a young age, LaChance has already had a significant impact on education in Northwest Colorado. His school community will be relieved he’s not interested in chasing a higher salary at a bigger school district. He and his supportive wife, Mandy, and two daughters Addi Jo and Avery Jo are happy where they are.
“I think I’ve found the place where I can do good work, and I feel the support of the community,” he said. “What are we looking for — a big paycheck? A big office? That’s not me. I found this community 10 years ago (as a sixth through eighth-grade teacher) and don’t have any ideas to leave.”
To reach Tom Ross, follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.
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Students in the Steamboat Springs School District generally did as good or better in English language arts last school year but struggled to keep pace in math, according to results of state standardized testing.