Hayden Troy Zabel said it wasn’t easy to decide to leave Hayden.
After all, he grew up there. Zabel graduated from Hayden High School in 1983. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Western State College and a master’s degree from Colorado State University, he returned in 1990 for his first teaching job at the middle school. He went to Yampa in 2000 to become principal at South Routt Elementary School but returned four years later to take the same job leading Hayden’s secondary campus.
Zabel is leaving to become the superintendent of the Bayfield School District.
“We have a lot of history here, a lot of good years,” Zabel said Wednesday. “Love the staff, love the kids here. This is where our home is. But (Bayfield) is one of those incredible opportunities I couldn’t pass up.”
Zabel will take over a district of about 1,350 students in a community less than 20 miles southeast of Durango on July 1.
The Hayden School Board voted unanimously to accept his resignation Wednesday night. Before School Board members voted, a couple of them spoke up.
“Hate to see you go,” School Board member Kurt Frentress said.
“Thanks for your service, and good luck,” School Board President Brian Hoza said.
Zabel said he always wanted to be Hayden’s superintendent. He was considered twice, most recently last year. The School Board eventually appointed Mike Luppes as the district’s half-time superintendent.
Because it didn’t work out in Hayden, Zabel said he decided to pursue other opportunities after 11 years as a principal.
“I’m just ready for a change, new challenges,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a while. I just felt like this was the time to move to some other opportunities.”
At the meeting, Luppes told the School Board he would advertise the position by this weekend. Luppes said he would like to have applications back by the end of May with a hire announced as early as the School Board meeting in June.
He told the School Board that teachers, parents, students and community members would be able to participate in the process by volunteering for committees to help review applications.
Luppes acknowledged Thursday that replacing Zabel wouldn’t be easy.
“He went to school here; his first teaching job was here; he was principal here,” Luppes said. “Those will be tough shoes to fill, no doubt.”
Frentress, along with School Board member Tim Frentress, supported Zabel for superintendent last year. Frentress called Zabel an asset to Hayden and praised him for helping move the district ahead academically.
“Bayfield made a good selection in selecting Troy as their superintendent,” Frentress said. “He’s going to do a good job there. Even though he hasn’t been a superintendent before, he’s ready.”
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com