After 42 years in education, Holy Family principal stepping down

Sister Ann Ashwood-Piper hugs Emma Ryan, one of the kindergarten students playing on the playground at Holy Family Catholic School. Ashwood-Piper, the principal of the parochial school, plans to resign after nine years and take a sabbatical at the Nazareth Convent and Academy in Concordia, Kan., effective June 1.



011812 SISTER ANN RETIRING

Sister Ann Ashwood-Piper hugs Emma Ryan, one of the kindergarten students playing on the playground at Holy Family Catholic School. Ashwood-Piper, the principal of the parochial school, plans to resign after nine years and take a sabbatical at the Nazareth Convent and Academy in Concordia, Kan., effective June 1.

Sister Ann Ashwood-Piper has been greeted with well wishes, tears and “an extra portion of hugs” since announcing this month she will resign as Holy Family Catholic School’s principal, effective June 1.

Ashwood-Piper, who served as the school’s leader since fall 2003, said she will miss the school’s students, parents and volunteers.

“It’s fed my soul. But it’s time to go,” Ashwood-Piper said.

Nine years is the longest amount of time she spent at any job during her 42 years in education. She has taught every subject, every grade and worked with a range of children, from ones with severe special needs to gifted-and-talented students.

Ashwood-Piper began her teaching career in Milwaukee, then moved four years later to West Virginia, where she spent two years teaching home-bound students in hard-to-reach rural areas. She next opened a preschool in Minnesota for a couple of years before moving to Grand Junction in 1977.

A couple years after opening The Play Group preschool in Grand Junction, Ashwood-Piper worked for four years at Holy Family, then again switched jobs and worked in various positions at School District 51. After 17 years with the district, she saw a posting in the church bulletin for principal at Holy Family and decided to apply.

Nearly a decade later, she is getting ready to make her next move, a six-month sabbatical at the Nazareth Convent and Academy in Concordia, Kan., a motherhouse for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Ashwood-Piper became a sister in the Catholic Church in 2010 and studied at the academy in Concordia. She hopes to study, pray and rest during her sabbatical.

Ashwood-Piper said she is not sure she is ready to stop working forever and is open to possibilities upon her return later this year to Grand Junction.

“I have absolutely no idea what will happen. I’m just trusting God will have some place for me to go,” she said.

Holy Family posted Ashwood-Piper’s job earlier this month and will accept applications through Feb. 13. Ashwood-Piper said she expects the school’s board to select a new principal in April and have that person start the job in July.

After the school year ends, Holy Family secretary Kelly Bremner said she will miss Ashwood-Piper’s calming presence and faith, as well as her commitment to students.

“She always has time for the kids. No matter what she’s doing, she’ll stop what she’s doing and help that little kid,” she said.

Holy Family teacher Stephanie Martin said Ashwood-Piper’s patience extends to teachers.

“She always has 150,000 things to do, but she will always help you with what you need. Everybody loves her,” she said.



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