D-11 names new Doherty principal, reopens search for Coronado top job

March 12, 2014 Updated: March 12, 2014 at 8:30 pm
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Colorado Springs School District 11's board of education named a principal Wednesday night for Doherty High School but wasn't given the opportunity to appoint one of four other finalists who also were in the running for the principal's job at Coronado High School.

The board voted unanimously to hire Kevin Gardner to head Doherty. He was one of the five finalists for the principal openings at both schools.

When he starts the job June 9, he'll be Doherty's seventh principal in the school's history.

D-11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby said Gardner emerged as the leading candidate through an extensive interview process, which included several rounds of interviews with school staff, students and parents.

The remaining finalists who did not make it for the Coronado position included Audubon Elementary School principal Nancy Smith, Mitchell High School assistant principal Jerry Monks, Coronado High School assistant principal Darin Smith and former Adams County District 14 High School principal Bryan Wright, who was principal at Sierra High School from 2000 to 2007.

"After final interviews for the Coronado principal, it was determined that it would be beneficial to re-post this position," Ashby said, adding that previous applicants may reapply.

The second application period opened Tuesday and will close March 31. A public meeting with the next batch of finalists likely will be scheduled sometime in April.

For Gardner, the new job will be a homecoming of sorts.

He's currently the principal of Cedaredge High School on Colorado's western slope, where he grew up. The first substitute teaching job he landed in 1985 was at Doherty.

He's known all of the previous principals and also the school's namesake, the late Thomas B. Doherty, who was the district superintendent at the time of the school's founding in 1976.

"The personality that he had was legendary," Gardner said Wednesday. "With its history and legacy, Doherty is a great place. It seems like where I'm supposed to end up."

The first half of Gardner's nearly 30-year career as an educator and school administrator was spent in D-11. He worked at Horace Mann and Russell middle schools and Palmer and Coronado high schools, teaching social studies and coaching football and baseball.

In the early 1990s, he was D-11's lobbyist to the state Legislature.

Gardner left the Pikes Peak region in 2001 and spent 11 years as a building administrator in the Douglas County School District. He's been at Cedaredge since 2012.

He and his wife have four children ages 24 to 15.

"I'm excited to be coming back to Colorado Springs," Gardner said. "It's where I started my career. It's like home."

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