Zabel to lead Hayden High School | SteamboatToday.com
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Zabel to lead Hayden High School

Tamera Manzanares

— South Routt Elementary School Principal Troy Zabel has accepted an offer to become the Hayden High School’s new principal.

His job likely will include leadership of Hayden Middle School, which was left without a principal last week when Colleen Poole resigned to take the director position at the North Routt Community Charter School.

“It has been a very tough decision for me to make, but I’m really excited about the opportunities in Hayden,” said Zabel, who was among five candidates interviewed by a selection committee last week.

Zabel’s departure puts the South Routt School District in a precarious situation late in the summer when many principal candidates have been hired by other districts.

The South Routt School Board is meeting tonight to discuss the options, one of which is to appoint an interim principal for the 2004-05 school year, High School Principal James Chamberlin said. A full-blown search for a new principal would start in the spring, once a replacement is found for superintendent Steve Jones, who is retiring after the upcoming school year.

Zabel has been the principal of the South Routt Elementary School since 2000. During his time there, student test scores improved dramatically, partially because of a reading program Zabel implemented.

His success in Yampa is largely why he was chosen for the Hayden job, said Mike Luppes, who is the acting superintendent for Hayden schools and was a member of the selection committee.

“He’s familiar with the Hayden schools, and since he has left Hayden, his job performance in Soroco schools has been exceptional,” Luppes said, adding that Zabel’s strengths in staff and curriculum development will meld well with the district’s needs.

The selection committee’s choice of Zabel is subject to the Hayden School Board’s approval Wednesday night.

Zabel grew up in Hayden and lives there with his family. He taught sixth grade at Hayden Middle School from 1991 until 1995 when he became counselor and assistant principal at the high school.

He will replace Nick Schafer, whose policies helped reform a school plagued by disciplinary problems. Schafer’s surprise resignation in May left many in Hayden questioning the future stability of the high school.

Zabel, who graduated from Hayden High School in 1983, said a sense of duty to his hometown school influenced his interest in the principal job.

“I think Schafer was excellent … I hated to see him leave, but with everything that has happened, I feel like I’ve been successful in my position and that I have something to offer,” Zabel said.

While Zabel will be missed in the South Routt community, friend and colleague James Chamberlin doesn’t see Zabel’s departure as a total loss.

“If his strengths and leadership ability can help the Hayden School District, that will help all kids in Northwest Colorado,” Chamberlin said.

Zabel’s move to Hayden will open doors of collaboration between the two school districts, which may end up with similar structure of schools and administrators, Chamberlin said.

A year ago, the South Routt School District eliminated its middle school principal position, and Chamberlin took over leadership of both the high school and middle school with the help of a part-time dean of students.

A similar scenario could happen in Hayden because of budget constraints and declining numbers.

Luppes confirmed that one principal is likely but not definite.

“We’re fairly certain it will be a middle and high school position,” he said, “but there’s still discussion going on about that.”

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com


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