Basalt Middle School hires former Basalt High School Athletic Director Jason Santo as assistant principal

Molly Tiernan, former Assistant Principal to shift to BMS Dean of Culture role for 2023-24

Staff report
Basalt High School athletic director Jason Santo has been chosen as the new assistant principal at Basalt Middle School
Basalt Middle School/Courtesy photo

Basalt Middle School announced this week that Basalt High School athletic director Jason Santo has been chosen as the new assistant principal at Basalt Middle School following Molly Tiernan’s shift to the new role of dean of culture in the fall.

“Jason’s professionalism, communication skills, and values will be an excellent addition to the BMS team,” said Principal Jennifer Ellsperman. “His ideas for helping students understand exactly what it means to be a Longhorn are inspiring.” 

Based on staff, student, and parent feedback, tops on the list of priorities for a successful applicant were the ability to create trust, develop relationships, and collaboratively create and implement systems. Experience working in a diverse environment, effective teacher coaching, and a demonstrated growth mindset and willingness to learn were also key, officials said. 

Santo has been the athletic director and a teacher at Basalt High School for the past four years. He was the acting assistant principal for a semester last year when the principal was out for medical reasons. Prior to moving to the Roaring Fork Valley, he was a classroom teacher for television and film production classes in Illinois as well as the assistant athletic director for a school with over 2,000 students. He also has training as a sports journalist and sportscaster. The combination of these experiences has set him up for the complex work of being an assistant principal, officials said.   

“After four years at Basalt High School, I am excited to remain a part of the Basalt community by joining the staff and students at Basalt Middle School,” he said. “I look forward to continuing partnerships with families to support the needs of all our students.” 

Santo has a Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from Colorado Mesa University in addition to his bachelor’s in communications from Marquette University and his master’s in teaching from National Louis University.

Molly Tiernan, who has been in the assistant principal role for the past four years at the middle school, said she was excited to transition to the newly created dean of culture role.

“Being able to truly focus on building positive culture is a dream. The job description plays to my strengths and passion as a former school counselor,” she said. 

She brings her years of counseling experience into this new role. She said she has many specific ideas to impact the development of positive school culture, such as school wide attendance challenges and raffles, establishing a peer mediation program, and establishing a culture committee of students to include their voice.

Ellsperman said she was excited about the addition of the dean of culture position, allowing each person on the leadership team to focus on the highest priority work within their role.