Bobbie Skaggs was destined for a career in secondary education. Growing up in Pampa, Texas, she holds fond memories of her father, who was an agriculture teacher at Pampa High School.
Skaggs’ father passed away at age 42, and she said he had around 500 people at his funeral because of the students he impacted during his career.
Her mother also worked at Pampa High School, where she taught home economics, and Skaggs said former students will stop her in Pampa to thank her.
“Those two things always impacted me,” said Skaggs.
Following in the footsteps of her parents, Skaggs accepted a job in 1995 as a night supervisor at Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice in Englewood — then known as Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School.
After she worked her way up through other roles, including career counselor and assistant principal, Skaggs accepted a job as the school’s principal in 2010. But after 25 years at the school and 10 years as its principal, Skaggs is retiring from Colorado’s Finest.
Skaggs said despite enjoying every minute at the school, she has aspirations to teach at the college level. She plans to move back to Texas to be closer to family and will search for college teaching positions in the state — particularly ones that will give her opportunities to educate future teachers.
Before coming to Colorado’s Finest, Skaggs taught teen choices at a middle school in Richardson, Texas, a nutrition class for nurses at Clarendon College in Texas, and secondary education at Pittsburg State University in Kansas.
Skaggs was ready to accept a position as a family and consumer science teacher at Cherry Creek Schools before joining Colorado’s Finest. But the idea of working in a small, tight-knit community like Englewood spoke to her heart, she said.
“I just decided I was more interested working with at-risk youth. I found those were the students I had a tendency to lean toward because they needed more support,” Skaggs said.
Under Skaggs’ leadership, Colorado’s Finest has the highest rating possible for an alternative school through the Colorado Department of Education. In 2019, she was named the High School Principal of the Year for Colorado by the Colorado Association of School Executives and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals.
Skaggs wants to remove the stigma from alternative learning, and in 2014, she helped lead the way to change her school’s name from Colorado’s Finest Alternative High School to Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice.
“I have so much pride in the quality of education provided at Colorado’s Finest. I think alternative education may often be perceived as a less than quality educational experience,” said Skaggs. “I am confident that (Colorado’s Finest) graduates have had the very best teachers and a high-quality education which, quite frankly, they deserve it.”
Although she didn’t get to spend the majority of the second half of her final year at the school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skaggs said she was glad she was able to experience the challenge of the response to it. She said she was impressed that students were willing to adjust and engage in a remote learning environment.
Hundreds of students have walked through Colorado’s Finest during Skaggs’ time, and some like Garrett Larance said she affected their lives in a positive way.
Larance graduated from Colorado’s Finest this year and said Skaggs worked hard to make sure the school operated correctly.
“I thought Bobbie was an amazing principal and really focused on community in the school. That’s something I really value,” said Larance. “Having that connection with the teachers and students to help you through those hard times mentally or to get you through the next assignment — Bobbie was great at doing those type of things.”
Skaggs said the biggest lesson she learned at Colorado’s Finest was how resilient students can be. She said many students at the school have overcome or are overcoming a multitude of challenges. Despite that, she said her students have been willing to give education another chance.
“It was inspiring on so many levels. I would say to sum up the lesson learned: Be kind — you never know what someone is going through,” she said.
Englewood Middle School Assistant Principal Cyndy Chick will take over Skaggs’ role. Skaggs is planning to leave for Texas in the middle of June.
“(Skaggs) is a champion for all kids and making sure that all kids have a path to succeed. And just because they weren’t successful in a traditional secondary school setting, she is always keenly aware of their worth, their potential, and she has moved mountains to make sure students realize their potential, find success and seek pathways toward the future,” said Englewood Schools Superintendent Wendy Rubin. “She’s an incredible educator and incredible human being.”
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