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New principal takes reins at Quest Academy

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Julie Garcia assumes interim position after predecessor’s ‘late resignation’

By Ben Wiebesiek

DACONO — With the launch of the 2013-2014 school year, Quest Academy will greet a new principal, Julie Garcia, a former student of school district.
    “I’m really, really excited,” Garcia said. “I was born and raised in Fort Lupton. I went all the way through preschool to high school, and I graduated from Fort Lupton High School. So it’s good to be back where my roots are.”
    Quest Academy, 3100 Sweetgrass Parkway in Dacono, is part of the Weld Re-8 school district based in Fort Lupton.
    The academy, with a staff of 14 and a student population of 186, is a K-8 core knowledge school and serves as a magnet location for the area.
    District Superintendent Mark Payler said Garcia wasn’t a principal last year, but she is administratively endorsed.
    “Last year, she was working with our gifted-and-talented and she was the coordinator of our AVID Program,” Payler said.
    AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase school-wide learning and performance.
    “Because we had a late resignation with Melanie Patterson, we went ahead and hired Julie,” Payler said. “Her title is actually interim principal, because it was late in June and early July. We’ll probably go through an interview process next year, or at a more appropriate time. You want to be in the market for a principal somewhere before the end of the school year, but obviously more in that March-April-May timeframe, not June.”
    Garcia said she was interested in applying for the permanent position next year.
    “My hope would be for it to be a long-time position because I think that’s how we could really get to know each other on staff and really get to know the kids and make the appropriate growth we need to make,” Garcia said. “As the AVID coordinator last year, it was a great opportunity to work with Quest, because many of our gifted-and-talented students attend Quest, so it really gave me a chance to get to know the school.”
    Garcia worked with all grade levels and at all locations in the district during the previous school year.
    “Last year, I was working at Butler Elementary, Twombly Elementary, the middle school, the high school and Quest. So I was working at all five schools in the district,” Garcia said. “The focus at Quest is about high achievement and the amount of rigor in instruction. And we really work to give that extra push for those students that need it.”
    Garcia said she didn’t want to come in and make a lot of big changes this year that might make staff or parents uncomfortable.
    “Really, what I want to do is tweak what we’re doing because there’s so much of what we’re doing that’s working,” Garcia said.
    Payler said Patterson resigned to take a job with a different district. Patterson previously served as principal at Fort Lupton Middle School. It was during her time there that the school was selected for the National Association of Principals Middle School of the Year for a continuing growth in test scores.
    “Julie has a good track record with us, and we’re very excited about her leadership,” Payler said. “The fact that she’s worked out at Quest with the gifted-and-talented students out there means that she’s very aware of Quest’s mission and the students that we have.
    “I think there’s some great goals here. The district, as a whole, is driven,” Garcia said. “I think the people are really great here, and I’m so excited to get started.”

Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email bwiebesiek@metrowestnewspapers.com.