When staff members arrived at Cheyenne Mountain High School earlier this week for the first official day back at work after summer break, they saw a familiar face in a different office.
Sure, they had known since March that longtime assistant principal Carrie Brenner had been approved by the District 12 Board of Education to succeed Don Fortenberry as the school’s next principal. But now that summer has all but departed, Brenner can take her focus off the transition and into her new role.
“I had one and one-half jobs there for a while,” said Brenner, who spent the past six years as CMHS assistant principal following two as dean and her first seven in the math department. “I had to finish up assistant principal duties and transition into principal. But the transition was great. Summer was just moving offices, and now we’re up and running now.”
Brenner topped a list of more than a dozen qualified candidates who sought the position after Fortenberry announced his retirement after 21 years at Cheyenne Mountain, the last six as principal.
“Carrie clearly rose to the top,” said District 12 Superintendent Dr. Walt Cooper. “She had an accurate and authentic perception of the things that are strong, the things that need improvement and the things that are possibilities. And she’s very in tune with the power of positive culture and has good ideas to involve students to further develop the culture of Cheyenne Mountain High School.”
A native Texan and self-proclaimed “Air Force kid,” Brenner moved to Colorado Springs in 1996, earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Colorado State-Pueblo the next year and completed her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1999.
She got her start in the classroom in Harrison School District 2 as a summer-school kindergarten reading teacher and later taught math at the middle-school level. She then spent four years in the math department at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, where she started a college-level statistics program.
It was that accomplishment that caught the eye of Kevin Moore, the math department chair at the time.
“I had taken a year off with a daughter in kindergarten, but was doing some substitute teaching on the side,” Brenner said. “Kevin recruited me to start at AP stats program at Cheyenne Mountain. I taught math at Cheyenne Mountain for seven years, then transitioned to dean, then assistant principal.”
With her latest job transition, this time into the school’s top role, Brenner isn’t out to reinvent the wheel — just to make the wheel roll and perform just a little bit better.
“We’re headed in the right direction, but we want to take what we have and continue to build,” Brenner said. “We have such a tuned-in and educated staff. We want to continue to grow and strive and always give the kids our best effort every day.”
Brenner’s two daughters, Amanda Burke and Jamie Burke, graduated from Cheyenne Mountain in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Amanda earned a degree in environmental health from CSU in 2018, while Jamie is entering her junior year, also at CSU, pursuing a degree in biomedical science.