Aspen High School hires Tharyn Mulberry as principal | AspenTimes.com

Aspen High School hires Tharyn Mulberry as principal

John Colson
Aspen Journalism

The Aspen School District has hired Tharyn Mulberry, principal at Centennial High School in Pueblo, to be the new principal at Aspen High School.

The district has scheduled a meet-and-greet event at the high school commons at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11.

Mulberry was picked from a list of 39 candidates for the principal's job, which was narrowed down to three finalists earlier this summer by what Superintendent John Maloy called the "interview team" that ultimately included staff, students, parents and community members.

His selection was formally ratified by the district's board of directors Tuesday, according to a statement from Maloy's office issued Thursday.

Maloy reported that Mulberry "has served as a high school IB history teacher, a middle school principal, a high school assistant principal and most recently the principal at Centennial High School in Pueblo."

According to Maloy, while Mulberry was at the helm at Centennial, he "transformed a low-performing high school into a high-performing high school," which was said to be "the high school of choice in Pueblo."

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Mulberry has served on the Gates Foundation principal advisory board and recently was given a state award for what Maloy termed "solutions-based leadership."

Mulberry has bachelor's degrees in political science and social science from the University of Southern Colorado and a master's in educational leadership from the University of Colorado, Maloy reported.

According to Maloy, the superintendent of Pueblo's schools, Constance Jones, said Mulberry "is an excellent leader who works hard to build positive relationships. He is respected by his peers and the parents of the community and is constantly looking for ways to not only improve his performance, but the performance of his students and school."

Mulberry replaces former Aspen High School Principal Kim Martin, who resigned unexpectedly in May.

Martin took the reins at Aspen High School in fall 2012 and left her post roughly a year after receiving a vote of no-confidence from a majority of high school faculty members.

Martin's resignation was followed by the equally unexpected resignation in June of Aspen High School Vice Principal Mark Grice.

The two departures have raised concerns among parents and, according to some, teachers who worry that unexplored problems in the district's administration have resulted in a puzzlingly high turnover rate at the administrative level of the high school.

"What I don't understand is why we're running through so many principals in such a short time," said Michele Cardamone, an Aspen High parent, in an Aspen Journalism article published in the May 26 edition of The Aspen Times.

"It seems to me that there is really low morale at Aspen High School right now, and I'm not sure why," Cardamone continued. "I'm concerned that there are deep-rooted problems that need to be addressed."

The article noted that the school has had three principals — Art Abelmann, Dave Schmid and Martin — since the 2010 departure of longtime, well-liked Principal Charlie Anastas.

Also departing this year is Assistant Superintendent Julia Roark, who is scheduled to leave at the end of the year, according to the May 26 Aspen Times article.

The article went on to note that other parents, along with school staff members contacted by a reporter, had declined to speak on the record "for fear their children or jobs might be negatively affected."

Maloy, in the same article, downplayed the significance of the turnover.

"This is the biggest year we've had in terms of retirement," Maloy conceded. "It just happened. We have a lot of people of the same age with a lot of experience, and they have committed to retire."

The district had to fill a dozen teacher positions this summer as well as two administrative slots and the job of curriculum director, which opened up when Tom Heald was promoted to fill the vacancy left behind by Roark.

According to the school district statement, when told of his selection, Mulberry remarked, "This is a dream come true. I cannot wait to get started in my new role and engage students, staff and parents in a conversation about what they appreciate most about Aspen High School and the types of things as a school community we might explore to build upon an already great high school."

Mulberry is expected to move to Aspen with his wife and two young children by the first week of August.

Editor's note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating with The Aspen Times on coverage of schools and education.

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