East Grand Schools hired the principal from Moffat County High School to fill the principal position at Middle Park High School.
Thom Schellinger, who will be moving from Craig and has been principal at Moffat County High School since 2008, brings to Middle Park High energy and a strong knowledge of “new big state mandates,” according to East Grand Superintendent Jody Mimmack.
“We’re very excited to have him,” said Mimmack. “He comes with a lot of experience on small rural mountain communities.”
Schnellinger starts officially for the school district on Aug. 11, but plans to move to the area in July. The school district is planning open houses and parent meetings to introduce the new principal to the community.
Middle Park’s new principal has one particularly strong connection to Grand County in that he was the assistant principal under former Moffat County High School principal Jane Harmon, who is presently the Granby Elementary School principal in East Grand Schools and the former Middle Park High School principal.
“I am happy to have Thom joining the East Grand School District team,” said Harmon in an email. “He exhibits strength in relationship-building and problem-solving... Thom consistently strives to do what is best for students.”
Schnellinger was the assistant principal at Moffat County High for three years before hired as the principal at that school. During his time there, he managed to tackle some big changes, such as administered the transition to a seven-period day to a block schedule, or 85-minute periods versus 55-minute periods. It was a test in logistics as well as all the intricacies that goes along with such a change.
I’m very proud of my work with high school staffs,” said Schnellinger, “and developing a climate of team and family.”
Before Moffat County High, he was employed in Buena Vista, Colo., where he was the visual arts teacher and designated administrator. From 1981 to 1989, Schnellinger was employed at Aztec Municipal School District in Aztec, N.M., as arts and crafts teacher.
He has a master of arts in educational leadership and administration from New Mexico State University, and a bachelor of arts in art education from Fort Lewis College in Durango, where his wife and their two children have also attended. He was the president of the Buena Vista Education Association and president of Chaffee County Council in Art. He won a distinguished service award from the Colorado Art Education Association and was National Art Honor Sponsor of the Year in 1994. A former Marine, he was honorably discharged in 1978 after serving four years.
Among focus groups and panel discussions held during East Grand’s hiring process, Schnellinger participated in a student-led tour and student-led interview. Students reported how “friendly and approachable he is,” Mimmack said.
Schnellinger’s wife Jackie is an elementary school counselor with a background in mental health counseling. The couple has two grown children, both employed as teachers.
“I liked what I saw,” Schnellinger said of Middle Park High School. “Both my wife and I are ready for the next challenge. We’re turning the page of the next chapter in life.”
“Thom and his wife Jackie will surely enjoy living in Grand County,” Harmon said. “They love the outdoors and will love the opportunities to be involved in recreation and community events.”