Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder to depart for Steamboat in June |

Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder to depart for Steamboat in June

Ridder has served with the district since 2019 and led the high school through the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic

Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive
Summit High School, pictured at the beginning of the closure of in-person learning in April 2020. Tim Ridder, the school's principal, helmed the school as it transitioned to online learning and then back to in-person.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder, who has served with the district since 2019, will be leaving his position at the end of June for a new role with the Steamboat Springs School District. 

Ridder, who previously worked as a middle school principal for the Thompson School District in Loveland, said he’s had an “unbelievable experience” at an “unbelievable high school.” 

Though he’s excited for his new role as director of teaching and learning for Steamboat — a position that will see him interact with various district officials to hone its strategic and academic master plans — he added, “I’m sad to leave just because it is such a great place.”

Ridder led the high school as it weathered the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when public schools were forced online and students and educators alike faced unprecedented challenges. Thanks to the district’s one-to-one policy, which provides a Chromebook or tablet to each student, Ridder said the high school was able to adjust to online learning and mitigate academic disruption. 

Still, Ridder said the effects of losing so much in-person time for students are still playing out today. 

“Public schools are important in the socialization and development of kids,” he said. 

Despite the challenges, Ridder said he’s proud that the high school has been able to maintain a more than 90% five-year graduation rate and a near 90% four-year rate. Though four-year graduation saw a slight decline due to the pandemic, Ridder said he’s confident those rates will rebound. 

“When COVID kicked in, it threw a wrench into everything,” Ridder said. “It’s taking (students) longer to figure things out … but we don’t give up on kids.”

Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder speaks during a graduation ceremony for the class of 2021 on May 29, 2021 in Breckenridge. Ridder, who has served with the district since 2019, will be leaving in June for a position with the Steamboat Springs School District.
Ashley Low/Summit Daily News archive

Superintendent Tony Byrd said those graduation rates, which remain above the Colorado average, are a “tribute to a lot of hard work to get kids through high school at a time when they’re either online or not coming in to school at all.”

Byrd called the pandemic “among the most difficult times to be a leader in public education,” adding, “Tim did some very important work to keep the school moving forward.”

Along with transitioning back to to in-person learning, Ridder said Summit High School continues to build on what it can offer students — from up to 3,000 college credits to supporting career and technical application courses as well as the International Baccalaureate program. Those opportunities, Ridder said, are more commonly found in larger districts. 

“Being able to say that we’re providing all these options in a community that’s so generous to its school system is really important,” Ridder said. 

On issues that continue to challenge the school district such as declining attendance rates, which were worse this year among older grades, Byrd said Ridder has helped lay important groundwork to improve those at the high school.

“I’m super thankful for Tim’s commitment to the Summit School District,” Byrd said, adding that Ridder made a point to be “very supportive” of students mental, emotional and social wellbeing.

Byrd said the process has already begun to find Ridder’s successor, who will helm the roughly 1,150-student high school. Applications are being accepted. After whittling down the list, the district will likely host a community forum with two to four finalists in the coming months.

Byrd, who will make the final decision on a hire, said he hopes to have a new principal begin by early July, though the district could bring on an interim if it feels the need to extend its recruitment process.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.