Joe Libby and Laura Vinger know how important it is to have a good working relationship between schools, especially for people who are new to their jobs. Starting this fall they’ll each take on the task of being in new career positions in a new town, but it’s something they’ll be able to share on multiple levels.
The married couple will be serving administrative functions in the Moffat County School District. Libby will be the principal for Craig Middle School while Vinger will take up the same mantle at Sunset Elementary.
Libby most recently worked as the middle school principal in the Fort Dodge School District in Iowa. He earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Iowa State University, a master’s in education administration from St. Cloud State University and a doctorate from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
He has worked with high school students in the past but found his niche with students between fifth and eighth grade.
“It’s where I belong, it’s a good fit for me,” he said. “You have the opportunity to work with kids as they develop who they are, where they want to be and where they want to go, and you can really make a strong connection with kids. It’s not just within the classroom, it’s the whole kid.”
Libby said he sees huge potential to nurture kids right around the time they enter middle school.
“It’s about talking about character, being a good citizen and being civic-minded and caring about others along with academics and activities,” he said. “I like having fun, and it’s easier to enjoy education and working when you have kids that are still interested in having fun, and I’ve seen that more of that there than with any other grade levels.”
He added that he expects an exciting time for his first year in Craig.
“It always has its challenges, and it’s a tough grade level, but if you can smile and nod and find something to laugh about, it’s a great day,” he said. “You can’t get any better than that.”
Libby was offered the job with CMS at the end of March. Though she already had planned to relocate with her husband, Vinger was glad to learn of the open position at Sunset, interviewing about a month later and getting the nod from the school district in May.
“I didn’t know what I was going to be doing,” she said. “For me, it’s a bonus to get to work in education because otherwise I would have been finding other things to do. I also teach yoga and CrossFit.”
Vinger holds a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University and received her administrative license through University of Phoenix. Her experience includes teaching English at various grades, as well as working as an instructional coach, consulting with teachers and principals to increase effectiveness in the classroom.
She thinks having served as a teacher and administrator will help her in her first principal job. Working with younger children is right where she wants to be.
“It’s a little more instruction-based, a little more curriculum-based, and I wanted to stick with that,” she said.
Vinger said she is looking forward to working with the Sunset staff.
“I’ve heard wonderful things, that they’re very passionate about education and passionate about their kids,” she said. “They really want to do everything they can to make their kids be successful, and I’m excited to be a part of that and use any knowledge or resources I have to help them out and make sure the kids have a good experience all the way around. Let’s see where we can go.”
The husband and wife already have gotten acquainted with administrators at other Craig schools in the hopes of finding good strategies in transitioning students from elementary to middle school to high school, a process that hopefully will be enhanced by two principals in the same household.
The two of them first met while living in Minnesota. Libby moved to Colorado to work within the Denver and Brighton areas in 2005 and Vinger followed suit two years later. The pair married in 2010, moving to Libby’s home state of Iowa to be closer to family a year afterward.
The call of the Centennial State brought them back before too long, in addition to their miniature dachshund, Frank. The small dog already has encountered a few deer since moving to Northwest Colorado.
“He’s not quite sure what to make of them yet,” Libby laughed.
The couple has wasted no time finding some favorite spots in town and meeting people.
“We’re just really excited about being part of the community and being active,” Libby said. “I think this is going to be a great opportunity for us.”
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.