TELLURIDE – After 12 years as superintendent of the Telluride School District, Mary Rubadeau will retire from her post next June to pursue educational writing and consulting, as well as spending more time riding horses and embarking on sailing adventures with her family and friends.
Rubadeau notified the Telluride School Board of her intention to retire last spring, and on Friday, Nov. 5, Board President Banks Brown made the news public.
“I am really going to miss the everyday contact with kids,” Rubadeau said this week. “They are a lot of work, but they also give you a lot of energy back. I am going to miss that energy.”
Rubadeau will be leaving a legacy of high student achievement and a community-wide confidence and pride in the outstanding quality of educational programs offered in the school district.
According to Brown, the district has a high bar of student performance, which was accomplished by empowering the core element of teacher leadership and by promoting a culture of collaboration, high expectations and student engagement in learning. In 2008, Rubadeau was honored as the Colorado Superintendent of the Year, and Governor Bill Ritter delivered the 2008 commencement address in Telluride. Ritter focused on the continued outstanding achievements of Telluride students and the dual honors of having both the Superintendent of the Year and the Colorado Teacher of the Year, Seth Berg, hailing from the same school district.
Rubadeau and members of the school board have been talking extensively about how to carry on in that positive direction with a new superintendent at the helm, at the same time achieving the mission goals the school board has set.
“Our students are achieving at a high level right now,” Rubadeau said. “We want someone to pick up that high level of operating. They have to know instruction and they have to know the business and what drives that high level of achievement. On the other hand, they will have to have in-depth people skills to build relationships with the school board as well as the entire community. They also will have to work collaboratively with our teachers and support staff. It’s a complex job.”
Rubadeau said there is significant work ahead for whoever takes her position. While student enrollment is currently holding at a flat rate, she said that will eventually change, and that growth in enrollment will bring the need for more school facilities.
“If you believe in this community, you can bet that enrollment is going to increase,” she said. “It’s flat right now, but once the economy turns around there is going to be a need to build new classrooms. That will definitely be on the agenda.”
Perhaps the more pressing issue that the new superintendent will face almost immediately is a shrinking school district budget.
“That has been on my plate this year and whoever comes next is going to have to deal with it as well,” Rubadeau said. “Everybody is working harder and doing more, yet making the same amount of money. It’s a tough scenario, but I think that is going to be the case before things get better in terms of the economy.”
While budget cuts and belt tightening in the classrooms have made it tougher on teachers and support staff, it’s the dedication of the staff that makes the Telluride School District so successful. “The foundation for success in our district is the quality of the faculty, support staff, and resource personnel, and their incredible commitment to excellence and dedication to student learning,” Rubadeau said.
According to Brown, in addition to Rubadeau’s “stellar” record of student achievement, which has been recognized at both state and national levels, her accomplishments include: Leading the community through a process to design and build the magnificent Michael D. Palm Theatre and 12 intermediate school classrooms; tracking the real world success of her graduates and their personal wellbeing as indicated by high rates of college completion and a commitment to lifelong learning; a strong, focused and committed leadership team of administrators and teacher leaders who continually build and nurture a culture of student success; fiscal stability and strong reserves for the future; planning for and building affordable housing options for recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers; hiring and supporting world-class teachers; fostering a culture of innovation and creativity, and establishing strong personal relationships with students and their families while fostering progressive student leadership skills at the local and state level. Rubadeau organizes and leads a student leadership strand each year for over a hundred students from throughout Colorado in conjunction with the Colorado Association of School Boards Conference.
The school board has engaged the services of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd., to conduct a search for a new superintendent.
The community is encouraged to respond to a survey on the district’s website, tellurideschool.org, and to attend meeting on Monday, Nov. 15, from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m., or on Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m., in the Middle/High School cafeteria.