Schnellinger settling in as Middle Park High principal
“My door is always open — I hate that comment,” said Middle Park High School (MPHS) Principal Thom Schnellinger.
“My work is out in the halls,” he continued. “That’s where I want to be, out in the halls, engaged with the students and teachers.”
Being engaged and available are important aspects of leadership to Schnellinger, who is nearing completion of his first academic year at MPHS. He is working to engage both parents and students in the leadership and decision-making process for the school.
“Purple has to mean something. There is something that wearing these colors means. Let’s define that,” he said.
On Feb. 26 parents and students will get their chance when MPHS hosts a community café discussion night from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the MPHS library. The school is seeking 24 parents to attend the discussion; seating for the event is limited to the first 24 parents to RSVP with the MPHS office. Topics to be discussed include: college preparation, graduation requirements, community service, electives and the arts, student achievement, athletics and activities, and bullying and harassment.
Schnellinger is happy to be living in Grand County and spoke highly of the civic-mindedness of the community.
“We have a community that gives philanthropically,” he said. “There is a tradition of volunteerism. That is unique, and this community should understand it. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Before coming to Grand County he worked as an administrator at the Moffat County High School for six years.
The Colorado native was born at Fort Carson and went to school in Manitou Springs. He served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and got his bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College.
Schnellinger spent 22 years as an art instructor, starting out working with Navajo students in Aztec, N.M., before moving to Buena Vista to teach there for 16 years. He received his master’s degree from New Mexico State.
He and his wife Jackie have two children, Micah and Chelsea, both of whom are teachers.
Schnellinger is an outdoor enthusiast, making Grand County a perfect place to live. The MPHS principal enjoys fishing, bicycling, and cross-country skiing and is an especially avid kayaker.
Principal Schnellinger is already looking toward the 2015-2016 school year.
“Next year we would really like to work with student government and have students take charge in terms of leadership,” he said.
Schnellinger is also preparing for the MPHS Chromebook rollout, expected to occur in August when students return for the beginning of the fall semester.
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