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Durango High’s Jon Hoerl named Colorado Principal of the Year

Seventh-year principal credits staff and Cheser for his success
Jon Hoerl, Durango High School Principal. (Courtesy of Durango School District 9-R)

Durango High School continues to take home accolades.

Just mere days after the DHS Demons hockey team won the Colorado 4A state championship, DHS principal Jon Hoerl was named the 2024 Colorado Principal of the Year by Colorado Association of School Executives.

Hoerl will also be nominated for the National Secondary Principal of the Year award.

“Jon is very deserving of this award,” Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser said. “During his tenure as principal, Durango High School has dramatically increased graduation rates and proficiency scores. The school has grown from four to 14 Career & Technical Education career pathway programs and has become a model for the state.”

Hoerl became principal in 2016 and has helped expand programs such as high school internships and CTE opportunities.

The high school now has 14 different career pathways, which Hoerl and district staff worked hard to promote last year. In addition, he was also heavily involved with the planning for the Impact Career Innovation Center.

During 2022-23 school year, DHS launched its teaching pipeline career pathway – a class taught by Cheser.

Hoerl and other DHS staff members were also instrumental in upping the school’s internship program in 2020 with the help of the Homegrown Talent Initiative.

Also, 306 DHS students graduated last year. Seventy-two students finished their senior year with a GPA of 4.0 or higher.

“Dr. Hoerl impressed us with his unique focus on building a collaborative school community, while also pursuing innovation through increased access to Advanced Placement courses and expansion of career exploration courses,” said CASE President-elect Wes Paxton in a news release.

Hoerl will be recognized for the award during the annual CASE Awards Ceremony on April 26 in Denver. The award for the National Secondary Principal of the Year, which is through the National Association of Secondary School Principals, will be announced in October.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled to receive this honor,” said Hoerl. “I'm very proud of the incredible work and partnerships between our students, teachers, staff, parents, and community. This award is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the entire DHS staff and incredible community, which has led to so many accomplishments and successes for our students.”

Hoerl credited much of his success to Cheser for her vision and support for him and the DHS staff.

“Jon is always open to innovations that will increase opportunities and options for students,” said Cheser. “From academics to athletics and the arts, he continually seeks ways to ensure every single student is successful. We appreciate his dedication to our district mission of ensuring every student lives out their Ikigai – their dream for the future.”


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