Former employees of East Elementary Schol assemble at the northeast corner of the school's playground in front of a tree donated by former principal Jim Covalt. Covalt, who died Nov. 26 in Colorado Springs, donated the tree to the school upon his retirement in 1990 after 23 years in Moffat County. Pictured are back row from left, Sue Goodenow, Joyce Phillips, Michelle Foulk, Oliver Phillips, Brett Sperl and Janele Husband. Front row, from left, are Peggy Bomba, Theresa Moyer, Robin Weible, Vicky Hughes and East alumnus Isis Beckett.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Former employees of East Elementary Schol assemble at the northeast corner of the school's playground in front of a tree donated by former principal Jim Covalt. Covalt, who died Nov. 26 in Colorado Springs, donated the tree to the school upon his retirement in 1990 after 23 years in Moffat County. Pictured are back row from left, Sue Goodenow, Joyce Phillips, Michelle Foulk, Oliver Phillips, Brett Sperl and Janele Husband. Front row, from left, are Peggy Bomba, Theresa Moyer, Robin Weible, Vicky Hughes and East alumnus Isis Beckett.

Former East Elementary employees remember late principal

While much of Craig and Moffat County will be focusing on the spruces and firs within their living rooms this Christmas and for some time afterward, certain residents will be keeping another tree in their minds. The arboreal entity in question towers over the northeast corner of the East Elementary School playground and stands as a tribute to the man who put it there.

Earlier this month, past employees of East gathered to remember the life of former boss Jim Covalt, who passed away Nov. 26. Covalt was employed with the Moffat County School District for 23 years starting in 1967 and retiring as principal of East Elementary in 1990.

Before leaving the school, he presented the teachers and students with something to remember him by — a pine tree transported from his own front yard to the school grounds with a tree spade provided by the Bureau of Land Management.

Among those present at the ceremony was then-teacher Michelle Foulk.

Foulk, who retired from East last year, said the tree always has been a pleasant reminder of the man who hired her in 1983.

“He was my first boss and just a very kind man,” she said.

Foulk described Covalt’s personality as “family-oriented” first and foremost, and in the office, he was a supervisor who was fair yet expectant of hard work from educators.

“But he could take good jokes, too,” Foulk said.

Theresa Moyer, Janele Husband, Brett Sperl and several other previous employees were among those who convened at the school recently to take some time to recall the man who was part of their careers.

Sue Goodenow also worked at East during Covalt’s tenure.

“He really listened to us, and if we had an idea, he’d let us try it,” Goodenow said. “He was a kind and generous man and wonderful boss. Many former staff and students have fond memories of him.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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