Summit High School assistant principals Brittny Acres and Douglas Blake selected as new co-principals

Two Summit High School assistant principals have been selected by the district to succeed outgoing Principal Tim Ridder. 

Ridder, who has led the school since 2019, announced he is leaving at the end of June for a new position with the Steamboat Springs School District. A weeks-long selection process ended in Brittny Acres and Douglas Blake being named co-principals for the high school. 

“The selection committee, comprised of staff, parents, community members and students, agreed Brittny and Doug have demonstrated outstanding leadership for many years,” wrote Superintendent Tony Byrd, in an email to district parents and staff. 

“As a district, we are committed to transformational leadership approaches and excited to see what this team will continue to bring to the School High School,” Byrd continued. 

According to district Chief Talent Officer Margarita Tovar, the selection committee initially considered 30 applicants before whittling that down to 10. Six were interviewed, and three finalists were put forward

Those were Acres, Blake and Canon City High School Principal Bill Summers, who withdrew his application on June 1. Acres and Douglas will now lead the roughly 1,150-student high school. 

Byrd, speaking to a crowd of mostly district staff and some families during a June 1 finalist forum, said Summers “was very serious” about his application. 

“(The Canon City district) just landed a very large grant. I know his superintendent wanted to keep him,” Byrd said. “He’s sorry he’s not continuing. It has nothing to do with the district or us.” 

Acres has served with the high school since 2015 when she was brought on as the dean of students before being promoted to assistant principal in 2019. Acres was formally an assistant principal and science teacher in Argentina. 

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Acres, speaking during the June 1 forum, said promoting socio-emotional learning has been a core priority during her tenure with the district. 

That includes cultivating a welcoming environment for all students and tapping into their passions as they mull their future careers. 

“One of the other things with that is looking to our students who are not heading to a four-year university,” Acres said. 

As the high school sees an increase in older students at risk of not graduating, Acres said it will be important to support skills such as language acquisition and securing a GED, which is equivalent to a high school diploma. 

Doing so will help those students access higher paying jobs in the future, Acres said. 

Acres also said there needs to be continued emphasis on community and family partnerships both to support parent relationships and grow career opportunities for students, such as internships and college credit courses. 

“We have an amazing, supportive community who wants to help, who wants to engage,” Acres said. 

Blake has served with the high school since 2007 when he began as an English teacher. He was promoted to assistant principal in 2017.

“What I continue to learn every day is that all of our learners are different. All of our learners have an individual need for something,” Blake said during the June 1 forum. 

Amid compounding challenges for the high school, which includes continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and declining attendance rates, Blake said the district needs to be adaptable in order to support its students. 

He referenced the graduate profile which includes five key traits the district pushes its students to strive toward. Those are: curious, courageous, prepared, growth-oriented and globally aware. 

But the path to achieving those goals is various between students, Blake said. Students should not be boxed-in to only pursuing certain classes or extracurriculars based on what the school thinks is best, Blake said. 

“At some point, we’ve got to start transitioning and letting our kids start picking out exactly what they want to do,” Blake said. “We need to open our ears, we need to listen and we need to let our kids co-create and build a learning plan that’s unique to them, that they stand behind, that they commit to.” 

If the district pursues that strategy, Blake said, “We’re going to see more kids walking into this building, running into this building, owning their education.”