Telluride Intermediate School will bid farewell to principal Chad Terry as he and his family relocate to Gunnison. Terry spent 12 years in Telluride, five as the physical education teacher at the elementary school and seven as the principal at TIS.
In an extensive selection process, parents, teachers, school officials and members of the community selected Sheree Lynn of Colorado Springs as TIS’s new principal.
“It’s certainly been amazing and it’s been great and filled with a lot of challenges,” Terry said, recapping his experiences in Telluride and at TIS.“We’ve obviously expanded the building, added on that whole new wing, we brought third grade over… And of course, the dual immersion program has expanded into the intermediate school.”
Terry has been credited as the driving force behind bringing the dual immersion program, a growing, optional learning path, to the intermediate school.
“It’s where kids get half of their instruction in Spanish during the day and half of their instruction in English during the day. It is really great,” Terry said.
Along with expanding the school and helping to bring learning to the next level, Terry has been described as an excellent leader as well.
“When you look at what Chad brought to Telluride as a leader at the intermediate school, I think that certainly one of the things that people will say about him is he was passionate about what he was doing with kids. He was very thoughtful,” said Mike Gass, school superintendent.
Terry is also known for having a grounded, calm demeanor, which is no easy feat for a principal.
“He knows the direction that he wants to go in and he is very clear on the path of how to get there. He’s very grounded,” said Susan Altman, principal at Telluride Elementary School. “He’s very character- and value-based. He obviously has a love of children. He’s been a coach, as well as an administrator, which is always a strength. It just goes to show that he connects with the kids and the staff. He’s just super levelheaded.”
Terry and his wife moved to Telluride after spending four years in Alaska. They graduated college together from Western Colorado University in Gunnison and seemed to always have a plan of eventually heading back.
“I know that for his family and for him, Gunnison is a place that he’s always had his eye on and his heart is there,” Altman said.
“It truly has been my wife’s and my pleasure and privilege to be in Telluride all these years and it’s super bittersweet for us to leave,” Terry said. “We’ll miss it very, very, very much.”
Terry gave his notice in May and soon after, the vetting process for a new principal began. The position was posted locally, nationally and internally. Gass spent a lot of time gathering information from parents and teaching staff before narrowing applicants down to a pool of seven candidates. The remaining candidates were then interviewed by a panel of 15 people including Altman, Gass, teachers and parents. Ultimately, it was decided that Lynn was the best candidate to take over as TIS principal.
“She’s exceptionally strong in instruction,” Gass said. “She has a pretty broad brush of content areas. She actually has training in some of the programs that we have implemented in Telluride over the last four years. She’s a national trainer with the International Baccalaureate. She’s worn a lot of hats in her career as an instructional coach and as a school leader.”
Lynn’s professional achievements are impressive, according to school officials. She has an undergraduate degree in math and computer science as well as a master’s in educational leadership of policy from University of Denver. She also has a master’s in environmental studies and geography from University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
For eight years, she has worked as an International Baccalaureate professional development leader.
“I work with schools all over the world and all over the country, leading professional development for teachers,” Lynn said. “I also help that particular organization develop curriculum, so, I get to partner with educators from all over the world as we develop some of the IB curriculum from K through 12.”
Lynn is also a public speaker, presenting on educational leadership at international conferences. Lynn explained that she has been able to model learning through her own career and the various opportunities that have been presented to her.
“I would say the thing that was most compelling about Sheree is the types of experiences that she’s had in her career. She seems to be open to new ideas,” Altman said. “She was really personable and really took into account some of the social emotional issues that students have and how that plays into the position as well as the academic side.”
Lynn grew up outside of Chicago but has been in Colorado for over 20 years. “Colorado is my home,” Lynn said.
Lynn takes a leadership approach that is characterized by learning first, then leading with her peers and community, together as a team.
“Every school has its own culture and personality, and to really learn that and learn the direction that the community and the school, the students and the parents want to go, and then really to tailor everything towards that mission and that vision,” Lynn said, describing her teaching and leadership style.
She expressed excitement about coming to Telluride and getting to know the community on a personal level.
“I’m really, really excited to meet everyone in the community and be a part and give as much of myself as I can in a positive way to the community,” she said.
Lynn’s goal as TIS principal is to pick up where Terry left off and continue to grow the school and the programs.
“It sounds like he’s just done this beautiful job of contributing to the families there. I think it’s really important to honor that,” Lynn said. “I just want to come in, build some genuine relationships with people and create a great, fun, joyful, rigorous school, and keep building it.”