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News & Press: Communications/Networking

Englewood Public Schools Principal Named 2019 High School Principal of the Year

Monday, April 8, 2019  
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 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Melissa Gibson
CASE Director of Communications and Strategic Partners
303-762-8762
mgibson@co-case.org


Colorado's Finest High School of Choice Principal Named Colorado's 2019 High School Principal of the Year

After 10 years of leadership at Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice (Finest), an alternative school in the Englewood School District, Bobbie Skaggs was named the 2019 High School Principal of the Year for Colorado by the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals (CASSP).

“I’m so honored and proud for my school,” Skaggs said. “My students and staff make it easy to come to work everyday feeling engaged and empowered to ensure everyone around me succeeds—no matter what their definitions of success look like.”

In her decade at Finest, Skaggs has fostered a family-like atmosphere, where students who felt that traditional campuses weren’t right for them have thrived. The family-oriented feel spans everywhere from the classroom, to the staff. For example, instead of homerooms, students are assigned to “families,” led by a teacher who acts as their academic advisor, advocate and accountability coach through their years at Finest. Further, staff members go by their first names, “setting up a relationship where students and staff are on equal footing, one based on respect and not on dominance or power,” Skaggs said.

As an alternative school, there are tons of different needs for different students. There are staggered start times; students who don’t do well in the mornings can sleep in, and start their day at 9:45 a.m. Those who might have an evening shift at work start earlier, so they can be done for the day by 2:00 p.m. Student’s schedules are completely personalized: someone with ADHD, she said as an example, might need an extra PE class on his or her schedule, or maybe a shortened schedule altogether.

The key, though, is to empower students to make choices about their own futures. From when they want their school days to begin and end, to what kind of classes they want to take and what their projects might look like, students at Finest are given the tools to customize their own education pathways.

“Bobbie’s leadership and compassion for her students is empowering them to take their futures into their own hands,” said CASE Executive Director Lisa Escárcega. “She’s proven that students who might seem disengaged may just need a different approach—and she’s ready to ask them what that approach looks like.”

“Bobbie is an excellent representative of our state, as high school principal of the year,” Escárcega added. “Her students and staff are lucky to have her.”

Skaggs came to Finest in 1995, taking on different roles until just over 8 years ago, when she come on as principal.  One key mission of hers is to take the stigma away from the “alternative” label. In fact, five years ago, she led the charge to have the school’s name changed from “Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School” to today’s “Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice.”

“It was really about trying to harness the idea that students who come here have a lot of choices to make for themselves,” she said.

“Our biggest challenge is overcoming this idea that alternative education is less-than, in some way, or that it’s not as high quality as traditional education. That’s something we fight tooth and nail all the time,” she said in an October 2018 profile of the school, published in a CASE newsletter.

Skaggs will celebrate her win at a school event later this year, as well as at the CASE Awards Reception later this month in Denver, Colorado. She will also be recognized at National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)’s 2019 National Principals Conference this summer in Boston, MA.

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The Colorado Association of School Executives (www.co-case.org) is the preeminent professional association for public school administrators in Colorado. The organization’s mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking to deliver on the promise of public education.

 

 

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