New principal picked lead Summit Middle School |

New principal picked lead Summit Middle School

Special to the Daily Joel Rivera, seen here with his wife, Christina

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit Middle School will start next school year under new leadership. Joel Rivera, currently an assistant principal at Horace Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs, will take over as principal of Summit County’s second-largest school in July.

Rivera said his initial attraction to Summit School District was its smaller size, relative to large urban and suburban districts on the Front Range.

“That’s where I’ve really wanted to end up – as a principal in a small community,” Rivera said. “And that’s the environment I want for my three kids.”

The oldest of Rivera’s three children will begin kindergarten next year.

Rivera was born in Dallas, grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Southwest Texas State University. He moved to Colorado Springs in 2001, where he taught math for seven years and earned his master’s degree in education and his principal’s license. Since 2007, he has served as dean of students and assistant principal at Horace Mann Middle School, which has 650 students. His recent responsibilities have included supervision of daily school operations, teacher evaluations, implementation of the student disciplinary system and oversight of math curriculum development.

Summit Schools superintendent Millie Hamner said that during the principal selection process, “It became very clear that Joel was the right choice for Summit Middle School.”

Rivera brings a strong commitment to student and parent outreach through his experience with student transitions to high school, interventions for struggling students and involvement with athletics and other extracurricular activities, according to Summit School District spokeswoman Julie McCluskie.

Rivera will replace current principal Iva Katz-Hesse, who has been at the school’s helm for eight years.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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