This morning we’re celebrating Dr. Gary Stueven, a charter school consultant and interim principal at Montessori Peaks Academy in Littleton, Colorado, as CharterFolk Extraordinaire. Gary was recently recognized with the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award by the Colorado League of Charter Schools for his passion and dedication to charter schools, their leaders, students and the communities they serve. We are also happy to recognize today’s columnist Pete Mason, the vice president of communications at the Colorado League of Charter Schools.
Dr. Gary Stueven: A Servant Leader with a Passion for Quality Choices in Public Education
A Passion for School Choice
Gary has always advocated for parent choice in education and was a significant force in successfully changing policies in Jefferson County, Colorado, to allow students to attend school outside their home districts. And as the charter school movement began in the early 1990s in Colorado, he was a vocal and passionate supporter and he never slowed down.
Gary’s first career in education lasted more than 30 years in various public school roles – from leadership to special education. He came out of retirement and returned to education as the principal for Platte River Academy, a charter school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where he served for 10 more years before he retired again.
Not one to rest on his laurels nor let a need go unfilled, Gary soon jumped back into service as interim principal at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen during a tumultuous time for the school. He guided the school’s board through onboarding several new board members, made difficult decisions to balance the budget in response to declining student enrollment and worked tirelessly to support staff and improve the culture at the school – resulting in a smooth leadership transition, increased enrollment and higher satisfaction among students and parents.
“Gary has come out of retirement to support individual charter schools going through challenging times,” Ann Hudson, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen principal, said. “His approach, words of wisdom and dedication to them laid a strong foundation for the schools to emerge stronger than before. His calm demeanor, thorough evaluations of ongoing challenges, high expectations and thoughtful, caring leadership keeps staff focused on what is best for students.”
Gary is currently serving as interim principal at Montessori Peaks Academy in Littleton, Colorado. He agreed to serve as interim principal for one year in 2018-2019 to help stabilize the school and ensure a smooth transition with a new leader. Last year, he answered the call again and returned to Montessori Peaks Academy as interim principal where he continues to guide the school as it seeks its next leader.
Throughout his career in education, Gary keeps students as his core focus. He exemplifies a commitment to ensuring continued growth and sustainability of charter schools and charter school leadership so that Colorado children and families have true quality choices in public education.
For Gary, the importance of parental choice in something as key as education cannot be understated. Parents know what will best support their children as learners, and the options offered by charter schools put students first and position them for success. Providing what kids need to thrive in their educational experience is a powerful factor in later success and strong communities.
A Caring Mentor
Whether as interim principal or education consultant, Gary is generous with his time, talent and compassion. He is a font of knowledge on everything from charter school governance to new charter school applications and has dedicated himself to sharing his passion for charter schools, helping cultivate and nurture the next generation of charter school leaders and ensuring new and expanding charter schools are built on strong foundations setting them up for successful futures.
“Gary’s impact has been spread throughout Colorado in supporting charter school leaders develop,” Ian Stout, executive director of Loveland Classical Schools said. “He’s really good at asking questions of you as a new leader to help you reflect on and identify your own weak spots. He always encourages me to stay focused on parental choice and strong outcomes for students.”
In addition to the many new and emerging charter school leaders Gary has mentored, he is a consultant for the Colorado League of Charter Schools offering training on board governance. He was also a member of the Charter School Support Initiative and formally served as a mentor in the Colorado Department of Education’s Administrator Mentoring Program for seven different charter school leaders.
Gary is gifted when it comes to building meaningful relationships with his mentees, understanding what each finds inspiring and how best to motivate them to bring their best forward for the ultimate benefit of the students they serve.
“The most important thing I learned from Gary and continue to reflect on is to have clarity of mission and to stay focused on outcomes for students; to let that drive everything we do throughout the organization,” Stout said.
Dan Schaller, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools said, “We are incredibly blessed to have long-time supporters, practitioners, and advocates like Gary who hold up the key principles that make charter schools exemplary in our state. First among them is putting students first, and that is what Gary has done for decades. We can’t thank him enough.”
Today, we celebrate and honor Gary as a CharterFolk Extraordinaire for his limitless passion and energy for preparing future charter school leaders and ensuring the success of charter schools in Colorado and beyond.
CharterFolk X is intended to celebrate the extraordinary people who are the heart of the charter school movement. When we are in the thick of it, when our work is most taxing, it is even more important to celebrate the extraordinary people who are the heart of the charter school movement.
If you have ideas for people who should be added to the CharterFolk X pantheon, please email me!
Enjoy the rest of the week, CharterFolk!