Superintendent announces selection of two principals |

Superintendent announces selection of two principals

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit Schools Superintendent Wes Smith announced two principals have been tapped to fill vacancies at Summit Cove Elementary School and Summit High School.

A district interview committee selected Jim Hesse to become assistant principal at Summit High School to replace co-principal Peggy Kastberg who is moving to central administration to oversee special education and talented-and-gifted programs.

Current co-principal Frank Mencin will become full principal.

Another selection team chose James Melhouse as the interim principal for Summit Cove Elementary.

The Summit School Board will review the selections at its Nov. 13 meeting, and Smith said he expects the candidates to be approved. A second candidate search for a permanent Summit Cove principal is ongoing after the initial attempt didn’t attract a large enough poll of applicants.

Hesse retired from a high school principal position in Michigan last year. He moved to Summit County this summer with his wife, Iva Katz-Hesse, who is now the principal at Summit Middle School. Smith said the couple’s hiring was not a “package deal,” as Katz-Hesse was hired before the high school position opened.

Hesse has experience as a high school teacher, athletics director and accreditation committee director. He said he will spend time in December with Kastberg. He also will sit in on the high school’s accreditation meetings this week.

“It was our dream to live in a mountain community, to live there and contribute,” Hesse said. “We’d done some good planning and were able to leave without immediate employment. Then, when the opportunity became available, I started attending football games and volleyball matches, and of course, events at the middle school.”

Hesse said he’s impressed by the students and faculty in the schools, as well as the proactive support for programs from the school board.

Melhouse will serve as Summit Cove Elementary’s interim principal from January to June. Retired Breckenridge Elementary principal Anne Clement is serving as interim principal for the first semester of the school year. Melhouse retired last year from Fairview High School in Boulder.

Superintendent Smith said the school district is lucky such qualified administrators aren’t very good at retiring.

“We just can’t do it right,” Melhouse said of retiring. “Once it gets in your blood, you really enjoy working with the kids and the schools.”

Melhouse began teaching in 1971 and worked his way up to an area superintendent responsible for 23 schools in Jefferson County. He spent15 years as a high school principal.

Melhouse spent Thursday morning meeting with Clement and the teachers at Summit Cove. He said he will spend a few days at school in December to get up to speed for a smooth second-semester transition.

“I think my job will be to not get in the way and support them in their pursuit,” Melhouse said, referring to the strong faculty commitment and community support in the neighborhood. “It’s nice thinking about a smaller district, and (my wife and I) are hoping we can make a contribution here.”

Smith hired an interim principal at Summit Cove just days before school started in September. In May, the school board approved the hiring of Hamilton, Mont., administrator Greg Croff after former Summit Cove principal Bonnie Brown retired.

Croff resigned Aug. 29 “when questions arose related to irregularities regarding Mr. Croff’s application for employment and Montana certification,” Smith said in announcing the change. “He resigned rather than explain.”

The school district has one more principalship to fill, at Upper Blue Elementary. Principal John Youngquist quit to take an area superintendent job with Denver Public Schools. Summit teacher and summer school director Amanda “Amy” McMullen is serving as interim principal this school year. The school district is conducting a candidate search for the job. McMullen will be allowed to apply for the job.

Summit Middle School has two new administrators this year. Principal Iva Katz-Hesse and assistant principal Tom Dickey succeeded Mark Clark and Carolyn Wolsiefer, respectively. The latter two gave up their positions to return to middle school classroom teaching.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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