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Durango School District 9-R Announces New Personnel

Burns will fill this role as current sitting COO, Victor Figueroa, plans to retire at the end of the school year. This role serves oversight of all Operational Aspects of the district including Finance, Human Resources, Transportation, Facilities & Custodial, Food & Nutrition Services, Technology, Communications, and School Safety & Security.  In this role, Burns will help coordinate efforts to ensure the work of all departments is within the Operational Expectations set by the board, and that these departments continue to contribute to the district achieving the Results Policies, also outlined by the board.

“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for the district that I've been able to serve as a board member for the past seven years and where my kids attend school,” says Burns. “9-R has developed a reputation as an innovative leader across the state by developing academic programs that ensure our students are ready for college and the workforce. In my new role, I will continue to support Superintendent Snowberger's dedicated efforts in ensuring that 9-R students are successful students and life-long learners by aligning resources that meet our community and Board’s expectations.”

Burns has been at Fort Lewis since 2006 as director of Admissions.  He also has experience at both Johns Hopkins University and University of Denver, and has previous teaching experience in K-12 and higher education environments. 

“Andy has been a critical partner in developing the vision of our district and has worked to help leverage the resources we needed to achieve higher levels of achievement for our students,” says Dan Snowberger, superintendent.  “His knowledge of our work and his leadership experience will clearly be an asset to us.”

The district also welcomes Jenny McKenna, who will serve as the new principal at Needham Elementary.  This announcement comes on the heels of current principal, David Tanaka’s notice that he has been promoted to a district position supporting students as the district’s Director of Culture and Equity.

“We are always looking at how we can evolve to support students, and the need to provide focused supports for our students that are learning English, Gifted and Talented students, Native American students, students living in poverty, minority students, and students that have been expelled and are at-risk, has become more and more urgent,” says Snowberger. “We are excited to have David’s expertise around best practices and programming to support these children and to close the achievement gap. We are looking forward to Jenny’s additions to Needham as she become the new school leader next school year.” 

“Over the past five years, Needham has undergone great positive change, demonstrated by solid gains in academic achievement and growth, as well as by developing an even stronger school culture. I know that Needham is poised to embrace the next bold move we take on as a district in order to achieve even greater student success,” said Tanaka. “I have complete confidence that Jenny will carry on this work with great energy and enthusiasm. The Needham community is truly amazing and will always occupy a warm spot in my heart. I would like to extend a gigantic ‘Thank you!’ to them for their support over the years!”

McKenna comes to the district from Salmon, Idaho, where she is the current principal at Salmon Junior-Senior High School in Salmon, Idaho, where she led the transition to Mastery Based Learning. Prior to her work in Salmon, McKenna has more than 16 years of teaching experience, including teaching 7th and 8th grade science, 5th and 6th grade English Language Arts, and as a teacher coach and mentor.

“I am elated to join the Needham team, and all of the professionals at Durango 9-R,” said McKenna. “It is my goal to continue building the positive, progressive culture in the community.”