It’s the end of an era at Salida High School as Tammy Thompson, principal for the past 13 years, retires and passes the torch.
As principal, Thompson has seen SHS through an era of changes with a new school building, concurrent enrollment with Colorado Mountain College and the academic acrobatics necessitated by COVID-19.
Those are in addition to the challenges posed by the ever-changing landscape of education over the past 23 years she has been in Salida, including school law, district policy and keeping up with the types of skills students need to be competitive when they leave SHS.
After earning a degree in business, Thompson turned to the education field.
She spent two years teaching vocational business classes at Excelsior Youth Center in Denver before moving to Salida.
She taught similar classes at the high school and then spent a couple of years as the district’s director of curriculum and instruction before taking on the role of high school principal.
She said the biggest accomplishment during her tenure at SHS has been the design and construction of the new high school building and campus. It was a long process but, she said, it will last a long time.
Thompson said the most rewarding aspect of her job has been watching the kids grow and become contributing members of the community as teachers, firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, attorneys and business owners, to name a few.
“They come in at 14, wide-eyed and leave as young adults, most with a plan,” Thompson said.
“It’s fun to see them grow up and change. They are our real accomplishments,” she said.
Thompson credits the teaching staff at Salida High School with making the school and its culture what it is and she said she feels she is leaving the school in good hands.
They are the boots on the ground, not me,” she said.
As for what comes next, Thompson said she’s not sure.
The past year has been so busy dealing with COVID-19, she said she hasn’t had a chance to think that far ahead.
She said she is looking forward to sleeping in and not having to attend late night meetings and traveling, especially in the fall, a rarity for those in education.
Although she’s not sure what she will do next, Thompson plans to stay in Salida, so her former students will still see her around town and she will continue to see how her kids turn out.