New principal hopes to bring positivity to Breckenridge Elementary

Ann-Mari Westerhoff poses for a portrait Thursday, June 24, in Frisco. Westerhoff will start the 2021-22 school year as the new Breckenridge Elementary principal.
Photo by Lindsey Toomer /

After 19 years with the Summit School District, Ann-Mari Westerhoff is ready to step into her new position as principal of Breckenridge Elementary School later this year.

Westerhoff is taking the reins at Breckenridge Elementary after a three-year stint as assistant principal at Silverthorne Elementary. Prior to that, she worked throughout the district as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, grade-level teacher and language development teacher. She said the only school in the district she hasn’t worked at is Dillon Valley Elementary.

As a longtime Breckenridge resident, Westerhoff is most excited to become a part of the tight-knit community that is “Breck El.”

“I know that Breck El is really known for the community feel and the family, and I’m so honored to be part of that,” Westerhoff said.

Westerhoff said, like most teachers and educators, she is looking forward to getting back to a somewhat normal school year.

“Getting parents back in the building and volunteers, and just building that community again and then having kids come together, it’ll be great to have assemblies again and celebrate,” Westerhoff said.

Westerhoff said providing students with the support they need to thrive and adjust this school year is of the utmost importance. She said throughout the pandemic, giving students structure — or rituals, routines and rhythms — has helped them feel secure. Making sure students have the academic and social-emotional support necessary is one of her main goals as principal.

Westerhoff said she has done a lot of work with positive behavior intervention and support, something she said the whole district strives to practice. Positive behavior intervention and support is a philosophy that encourages positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement to improve student behavior. Westerhoff said she’s looking forward to continuing this work at Breckenridge Elementary.

“It just really brings a positive flair to the school,” Westerhoff said. “We are shooting for a five-to-one ratio of positive feedback to negative, so it really creates a joyous, positive environment.”

Westerhoff was first introduced to educational leadership in her time as a language development teacher at Upper Blue Elementary.

“I just had an opportunity to do a lot of leadership work,” she said. “I became a teacher leader and then that grew into wanting to become an administrator.”

As an administrator, Westerhoff said she hopes to work with teachers to make sure they get the backing and respect they deserve.

“I really love working with teachers to help them fine-tune their practice,” she said. “Most teachers are amazing, but sometimes you can give a little bit of feedback and just go to the next level. And then they feel really good about their work. So I love that instructional leadership.”

Westerhoff is taking over after former Principal Khristian Brace decided to continue her education to earn a master’s degree in professional counseling after working as principal for three years.

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