The Platte Canyon School District recently named longtime teacher Jesse Walters to serve as the next principal at Fitzsimmons Middle School in Bailey.
Walters has a wealth of experience within the district, having taught and coached at Platte Canyon High School since 2001. In addition to teaching music at both the high school and middle school levels, Walters served as head coach of the Platte Canyon High School varsity volleyball team for eight years.
“I am humbled and excited to serve as the next principal at Fitzsimmons Middle School,” Walters said. “I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up and get to work. There is already a capable, committed staff in place, and I look forward to working with them to continue serving students.”
Walters, who earned his music education degree at Colorado State University, says teaching has always been his first love.
“I have always been a teacher first, and music is just what I happened to teach.” Walters said. “As a teacher, I enjoy forming personal connections and establishing good rapport with students to create an optimal learning environment. I also think it is imperative for students to take ownership of the learning process, and to have a sense of ownership about the knowledge they acquire.”
Walters and his wife of 13 years, Katie, have two daughters who attend Deer Creek Elementary School, where Katie serves as a third-grade teacher.
As chief administrator at FMS, Walters will certainly face his share of daily challenges. According to the new principal, he will simply take them as they come.
“Well, I don’t know what I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be challenges ahead,” Walters said. “I think my initial approach will be to do a lot of observing and evaluating. If something is working, then that’s great. The answers don’t have to come from me. As long as it benefits the kids, then that’s all that really matters.”
Walters added that being surrounded by other experienced teachers and administrators would certainly help in the event that guidance or support was required.
“I’ll have Mike Schmidt (Platte Canyon School District superintendent) next door, so that won’t hurt,” Walters said with a chuckle. “Mike was actually my teacher-mentor when I arrived here in 2001, and I couldn’t even count all of the ways I have been influenced by his style as an educator.”
Walters also added that social media stands out as one of today’s primary challenges in administering education, especially to middle school students.
“Social media is a double-edged sword,” Walters said. “It presents both challenges and opportunities. Cell phones and social media can be distractions, and somewhat addictive for students. But modern technology also makes information readily accessible and available. As an institution, we need to learn how to best utilize modern technology as a means of serving and educating our students, and to use it as a tool to help them become socially and emotionally well-adjusted human beings. As educators, that is always our ultimate challenge.”