Gina Zabel named Hayden Secondary Schools principal |

Gina Zabel named Hayden Secondary Schools principal

Zabel has been teacher, middle school principal in district

Gina Zabel

— Many of the 210 students who will walk the hallways of Hayden Seconday Schools next year already will be familiar with their new head of school.

Gina Zabel, an elementary literacy teacher in Hayden, was named the Tigers’ principal at a Hayden School Board meeting Friday morning. The board unanimously approved her promotion.

“I’m very excited and honored to have it,” Zabel said. “I’ve got lots to do starting next week.”

Hayden initiated the search for its next Secondary Schools principal after Troy Zabel, a longtime Hayden resident who graduated from the high school in 1983, left Hayden last week to serve as superintendent in the Bayfield School District, a 1,350-student district southeast of Durango.

The Hayden district received 15 applications for the position, and a committee that included School Board members, parents and teachers interviewed the four finalists last week. Gina Zabel and David Grabowski, a math chairman at Moffat County High School in Craig, were chosen as Hayden’s finalists this week and interviewed by the School Board on Wednesday.

After Friday’s board meeting, Board President Brian Hoza said he looked forward to seeing Zabel back in a leadership role.

“We’re excited about the opportunity, and we’re looking forward to her stepping up to the next level and representing the district as well as she has been for several years now,” Hoza said. “We’re confident she’ll provide the leadership needed to unify the district and the staff.”

Zabel started her career with the Hayden district in 1994 as an elementary music and middle school reading teacher and later taught sixth grade until 2001. She also served as the district’s middle school principal for four years until her position was consolidated with the high school principal’s because of budget cuts in 2010.

“I really enjoyed being a principal, and I loved the ability to be a leader,” Zabel said Wednesday after she learned she was a finalist for the job. “I feel like I went through a thorough application process for this position, and I’m glad that I did. It’s an exciting opportunity.”

Superintendent Mike Luppes said Zabel was selected partly because of the support she received from other district staff members who praised her performance as the middle school’s principal.

“We’ll have a cohesive admin team when she takes over,” Luppes said. “We’re very excited to have her as our principal.”

Although Zabel officially begins her new role Aug. 15, Luppes said she would have plenty of work to keep her busy during summer as she prepares for the start of classes in fall.

“She’s excited and ready to go,” Luppes said. “There are several new hires that need to take place as well as training sessions for staff. She’ll have her plate full, no doubt.”

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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