IT’S OK to note that Cathy Pacheco-Ogle’s arrival in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley was bittersweet.
The new K-2 principal at Alamosa Elementary was looking forward to the move and the years ahead that she and her husband, Scott Ogle, would spend living and retiring in the Valley, surrounded by the majestic mountains that remind her of her home state of Wyoming.
They talked about the move and all the wonderful things they would explore together in their new home as she brought her elementary education background to Alamosa Schools after serving as the Brush Elementary 3-5 principal. But then tragically and heartbreakingly, Scott died of a sudden heart attack on June 30, just ahead of when the two were scheduled to make the move to Alamosa.
She admits that for a brief moment she re-thought her decision to take the principal’s job and whether now, with Scott’s death, that was even possible. But she knew she would persevere because she remembered why she accepted the job in the first place. It helped matters, too, that her daughter, Sara Watkins, and granddaughter, Tegan, announced that they would make the move to Alamosa with her, and from that moment on her days got better.
She’s been spending her initial days at the elementary school meeting individually with staff. She asks three questions in every meeting: 1. What’s happening already that is wonderful that we should keep? 2. What’s something that we need to throw away, it’s not working? 3. What do we need to tweak?
She’s mindful that new leadership often will come in and look to make immediate changes without a base of knowledge, and that’s not her style. “There’s usually a lot of good and so I wanted to know that first.”
She has plans for short parent-teacher conferences on Aug. 22 so parents can meet their child’s teacher and so she can begin to meet parents and guardians.
“With the parents, it’s really a partnership,” she said. “I’m here to help their child be successful. I’ve always looked at this job as being in service to my teachers and in service to the kids. I really want to be able to help them get more out of what they’re doing.”
The new school year brings a new beginning for Alamosa’s K-2 principal. Now in more ways than one.