Hayden chooses four superintendent finalists | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden chooses four superintendent finalists

School Board invites community to participate in candidate interviews first week of March

Mike McCollum

— After receiving eight applications for its superintendent position, the Hayden School District has pared the field of candidates to four finalists.

The finalists include Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel, two acting Colorado superintendents and the principal of the country’s only standalone ninth grade school.

The Hayden School Board is conducting the search and interview process without help from an outside firm. The search is expected to result in the hiring of a replacement for retiring Superintendent Mike Luppes.

All four finalists have successful, building-level administrative experience and have worked in small, rural school districts, Luppes said. The four finalists scheduled to interview the week of March 3 include Zabel; Greg Rockhold, a principal in Paris, Tenn.; Jacob Dingman, interim superintendent of the Clear Creek School District; and Joseph Shields, superintendent of the Vilas School District.

“We are anxious to take the next steps in this process,” said Luppes, who after four years as superintendent said the end of this school year will be a good time to retire and spend more time with his family.

“As I’ve said before, I’m letting the School Board handle the selection process,” he said. “I’ve been active in assisting the search, a role that’s kind of like a tour guide.”

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Luppes is encouraging community participation throughout the candidate interview process. He set aside time for parents and community members to also address finalists during the interview week.

Dingman, a former middle school principal and assistant superintendent of the Clear Creek School District before taking over as interim superintendent in May 2007, said he hopes many parents and community members participate in the interview process.

“What I like about small communities is that the schools are the center of the community. : I want to meet the people who I hope will be my neighbors,” said Dingman, who has children ages 10, 6 and 5. “Part of the reason I’m looking at Hayden is that I’m looking for that long-term place for my family. I don’t want to uproot again.”

Rockhold, who has served as principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels, said what drew him to the Hayden position is the town’s rural charm.

“My background is essentially a rural background,” he said. “I grew up in a rural town south of Albuquerque, so I understand the pride that people in rural areas have in ranching and farming.”

Zabel, who is on vacation and unavailable for comment, has served as Hayden’s high school principal since 2004. He previously was principal at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa for four years. He also has worked as a sixth-grade teacher, an assistant principal and activities director in Hayden schools.

Shields, who was unavailable for comment Thursday, has an extensive vocational education background. He served for five years as the vocational education coordinator at the High Plains Youth Center in Brush.

In 2002, Shields was hired as principal at Vilas School, and in 2004 he was appointed superintendent of the Vilas School District. As superintendent of the tiny, 100-student school district, Shields was scrutinized in 2006 when “Hope Online” – an online charter school authorized by the school district – came under fire by state auditors.

Whoever fills Luppes’ position will run a school district with a static budget. The 447-student district has not cut academic or extracurricular activities in the past three years, but Luppes previously said additional decreases in student enrollment may force the district to do so.

The minimum salary for the superintendent position is advertised at $82,000, not including benefits.

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com


Hayden superintendent interview schedules

– March 3, Greg Rockhold

– March 4, Joseph Shields

– March 5, Troy Zabel

– March 6, Jacob Dingman

Parent and community interviews will be held from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. March 3 to 6 in the cafeteria at Hayden Valley Elementary School. For more information, call Superintendent Mike Luppes at 276-3864.