Faces are changing in many SD51 principal offices

Classes begin today with somewhat-new faces in the principals’ offices at some District 51 schools.

Yogi Cherp, who served as assistant principal at East Middle School for the past two years, will be Gateway School’s new principal this school year.

Gateway’s former principal, Pat Chapin, has taken a job as principal of the Career Center after the retirement of its former leader, Dean Blair.

Chapin split time as the principal at Grande River Virtual Academy, the district’s online school that is beginning its second year as a kindergarten through 12th-grade program.

Those duties will now belong to Sharon Kallus, who will continue as principal of Broadway Elementary School, too.

The virtual academy moved over the summer from a modular unit behind the district’s Emerson Building into a section of Broadway that has an exterior entrance and is walled off from the rest of the elementary school.

Broadway had room to accommodate the move because its student population is at about half-capacity, according to estimates from Shannon Bingham, a contract demographer for the district.

Monica Heptner will take over for Rosa Culver as the principal of Dual Immersion Academy this school year.

Heptner taught at the elementary school from 2004 to 2008 before teaching at Dual Immersion’s middle school program attached to Bookcliff Middle School between 2008 and 2011.

She worked as an English Language Learner coach for the district last year.

After the retirement this summer of Cristal Loehr as principal of Fruita 8/9 School, Jason Plantiko is moving up from a post as assistant principal at Fruita 8/9 into the school’s top administrative spot.

Melissa Turner will take over Plantiko’s former job.

Other new assistant principals this year include:

Nikki Johnston at Fruita Monument High School, Meghan Herman at Grand Junction High School, Dan Bunnell at East Middle School, Jason Eidinger at Grand Mesa Middle School, Cheryl Vana at Orchard Mesa Middle School, and Jennifer Smyth at Central High School.

Julie Schmalz will replace Chris Capron as administrative intern at Clifton Elementary School.

Although the principal of Valley School was to be determined, at a School Board meeting in June, it was announced that the position will again be filled by Brenda Witte this year, according to board documents.


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