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Pacing into Summit Schools

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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Heidi Pace pinches herself when she looks out her Summit School District office window.

“It’s a very cool place to live,” the new Summit School District superintendent said. She officially started the job Friday, moving into the area from Colorado Springs where she served 28 years in the Academy School District 20. Her most recent position was deputy superintendent.

“Heidi has been in a variety of roles with Colorado Springs Academy District 20,” school board president Jon Kreamelmeyer said, which gives her a leg up in taking on the role of superintendent in Summit County.

She’s moved up the ranks, starting as a teacher before moving on to assistant principal, principal, human resources director, director of administrative support services, director of planning and organizational development, director and executive director for learning services and chief of staff.

She’s used to managing 23,000 students at 34 schools.

“I’ve always loved it here,” Pace said, adding that she brings her family to Summit County to ski and enjoy summers. Now that her youngest of three sons finished high school and is starting in the fall at the University of Colorado-Boulder, she’s ready to make a move out of Colorado Springs.

The timing was perfect, she said, with the position opening just as she was ready to make a change.

To Kreamelmeyer, Friday’s start date is just a formality, as Pace has jumped into the district since finding out she was hired.

“What impressed me is that, after she was hired, she engaged herself with what was going on,” he said. “She’s done a lot and done it on her own… It seems like she started a long time ago.”

Pace expects to take on a lot of responsibility, but she’s happy to know she has a talented staff to help her during the learning curve period.

“It’s a good, strong culture,” she said, adding that staff has a “high level of professionalism and are great, hard-working people.”

Pace said she expects to continue the work of former superintendent Millie Hamner and interim superintendent Karen Strakbein, who will go back to her previous role as assistant superintendent of business services.

“I’ll continue their work and staying on that path and implementing what they did on a deeper level,” Pace said, referring to Closing the Achievement Gap work and taking on the challenge of raising achievement for all students.

“It’s roll-up-your-sleeves tough work,” she said. “But there is fabulous leadership here and programs and structures are in place to make a difference.”

She’s also experienced with International Baccalaureate and other initiatives in Summit School District, Board-member Margaret Carlson said, which will help drive the district forward.

“I think she’ll take where we are and not go sideways or backward but move it forward,” Kreamelmeyer said.

To handle the stress of the job, Pace finds outlets in the outdoors. She hikes, skis, canoes, bikes – and more.

Her favorite hike in Colorado Springs was the incline rail on Pike’s Peak. At a 40-60 percent grade over 1.1 miles, it’s a grueling trek, but its “the fastest, toughest workout you’ll ever do,” Pace said.

She added that she loves the job of managing a school district, so it makes it easier to not feel burdened.

“I already love what I do,” she said. “If you love what you do, yes, there’s stress, but it’s manageable.”


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