The Elizabeth School Board presented Elizabeth Middle School's new principal, Pam Eschief, to parents, teachers and staff at a meet-and-greet in the school's library on May 20.
Eschief replaces outgoing principal Jodi Elkins, who resigned from the position last month after holding the job for one year. Eschief will be the fourth in a series of principals, including one interim principal, to lead the school in as many years.
“She was the only internal candidate, and it might sound like that was an easy deal,” Superintendent Douglas Bissonette said. “The board did not make it easy on her.”
The Elizabeth School Board's decision to look first for an internal candidate was born from the board's desire to bring continuity and consistency to the middle school's leadership, which has experienced a high level of turnover in recent years.
“She has been here more than a few years and worn more than a few hats,” said School Board president Deb Spenceley during her introduction of Eschief. “I think all that experience is going to help her.”
Eschief has worked at Elizabeth Middle School for 16 years: 14 years as a physical education teacher and two years as the dean of students, a job roughly equivalent to a vice principal. Eschief was also named athletic director in 2007. She has a Master of Education in Leadership and Administration degree from Jones International University, and earned her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Idaho.
Eschief said her experience as dean of students has helped her prepare for her new role as principal, and though she had not expected the opportunity to come so quickly, she was excited for the chance.
“Elizabeth Middle School is who I am,” Eschief said. “If I'm afforded the opportunity to stay as a principal, that would be my goal, to finish my career at Elizabeth Middle School. As our new high school principal said: `It's not about coming here for a short stint.' I'm here to finish my career and guide the middle school, to make it a great place to work, a great place to be.”
According to the district, Eschief received unanimous support from the members of all the interview groups, which included middle school teachers and staff, human resources and parents, as well as school district leaders.
In a letter sent to parents earlier this month, Bissonette released comments solicited from colleagues and staff during the selection process. Eschief's colleagues praised her experience and her dedication to the community.
“I believe she has a vested interest here in Elizabeth and truly cares for students, teachers, and the community,” read one comment.
“I also think her tenure and ties to the community are a distinct advantage and would well suit the school and students in the future,” said another.
The school board approved Eschief at its regular work session on May 18. She has completed the training and licensing requirements to be a school principal in Colorado, and the district expects to receive final licensure notification from the state in a few weeks.