New principal takes reins at
Gunnison Valley Middle School
By Linda Petersen
Nov. 2, 2017
GUNNISON—After 17 years at Gunnison Valley Middle School, mostly as a teacher, Jeff Bartholomew is looking at the school a little differently these days. That’s because Bartholomew is the new principal.
“It’s very different. Teachers are extremely busy people, but as a principal, you’re pulled in 25 different directions at the same time,” Bartholomew said. “There’s a lot to learn, a lot to do.”
Bartholomew has been acting principal since the beginning of the school year after a bad fall at home left Principal Alan Peterson unable to return to work.
For a time, Peterson hoped to get back to his job, but when recovery was taking longer than he had hoped, he decided to retire, according to Superintendent Kent Larsen.
Larsen said normally when there is an opening for a principal, the school board and district officials have lots of notice and conduct an extensive search. In fact, Larsen said, in his 34 years with the district, he does not ever remember another mid-year replacement for a principal.
Fortunately, Bartholomew completed his administrative endorsement and let the school district know he would be interested in an administrative position.
After receiving word that Peterson had decided to retire, the school board decided at its Oct. 11 meeting to offer the position to Bartholomew.
It was an easy decision, Larsen said. Bartholomew had all the credentials and had performed really well during the time he was filling in for Peterson.
Bartholomew said serving as acting principal has been great training.
“I wasn’t expecting this opportunity so soon, but I was glad to take it when the opportunity arose. It’s been a learning experience. I was thrown in the fire, so to speak, but everyone—the teachers, staff and students—has been absolutely great, so supportive,” he said.
Now that it’s “his” school, Bartholomew does not expect to make any huge changes. Instead, he wants to continue the legacy that Peterson left.
“He put together a great faculty and staff,” Bartholomew said. “They are very competent people who work really hard.”
“When I was teacher, he was very supportive of me. He’d listen to my ideas, to the things I wanted to do, and he was always all for it. He’d be behind me but never get in the way of what I wanted to accomplish.”
For his part, Bartholomew is committed to supporting the faculty and staff in any way he can.
“I mostly want to be an advocate for them and give them a say,” he said. “As the leadership team identifies areas as a school where we need to improve, I’m going to get behind their efforts all the way.”
Mr. B., as the students call him (Bartholomew is a bit of a mouthful, he said), has been a hands-on teacher and expects to continue that approach as principal.
“Already, I miss being in the classroom with the kids. So I make a point of being out in the halls and the lunch room with them when I can,” he said.
Bartholomew attended Snow College and received a bachelor’s degree in biology from SUU. He went on to get his master’s and administrative endorsement from Western Governors University.
He taught at Ephraim Middle School for 10 years and was in charge of an alternative school program before he moved over to Gunnison Middle in 2010.
Prior to Bartholomew’s appointment, Peterson was the only principal the middle school had known since it opened 35 years ago. A private staff retirement party is being planned for Peterson later this month.
“He has been an excellent principal. We truly appreciate his dedication to the district,” Larsen said of Peterson.