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El Paso County Colorado District 49

An interview with new principal at Banning Lewis

When school starts Aug. 13 at the Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, students will welcome their new principal, Eric Dinnel.Dinnel was born and raised in northern Colorado. He lived in many various cities, depending on where his father’s job took the family. He said he lived in 56 different houses and attended small and large schools, city and rural schools.Dinnel graduated from Colorado State University with an emphasis in criminal justice and worked as an undercover narcotics agent with the special investigations unit in Fort Collins. “I had full intentions of going into federal law enforcement,” he said. “But I met my spouse, and we redirected our interests.”He and Tracey, his wife of 10 years, then moved to Arizona, where Dinnel worked as a financial advisor. “My wife has a child development background and is also a sign language interpreter,” Dinnel said. “She taught at a charter school for the deaf in Phoenix. She now coaches gymnastics.”Coaching led Dinnel into teaching. In Arizona, he coached football while he worked in finance. “I fell in love with school and working with kids,” he said. “I went back to school at night and got certified as a social studies teacher and got hired at that school. It was my introduction to education.” He also has a master’s in administrative leadership from the University of Phoenix in Colorado Springs.In 1999, Dinnel accepted a teaching position in social studies and a job as the head coach of football at Falcon High School, and he and his wife and their first born moved back to Colorado. He led the coaching crew at Falcon High School for six years. He was head basketball coach for three years and the assistant track coach for one. Later, he became dean of students and assistant principal.Last year, he was the assistant principal at District 20.Dinnel answered a few questions about his move to the BLRA.Morlan: How do you feel about charter schools?Dinnel: A successful charter school gives students the unique opportunity to go above and beyond the normal school environment expectations.Morlan: What are your goals and what do you see as the challenges?Dinnel: My goal is to increase student achievements. We do a variety of assessments. (I see the challenges) as working on the things that were successful last year and building on things that need improvement: combining the new faculty with the existing faculty and … establishing the principles in a new system.Morlan: How do you anticipate growth for the BLRA?Dinnel: We have a unique partnership with the developers. Actually, it is a three-way partnership with the school, the Banning Lewis Ranch development group and Mosaic Education. We are currently in the process of building a second school – Trailwood Academy. It will be another K-8 school, and we are hoping (to open) in the fall of 2008. There is a wait list this year for 200 students. (About 625 students will attend the BLRA this year.)Dinnel’s hope for his first year at BLRA ties in closely with words found on the Mosaic education Web site: “Helping to ensure students are mastering the skills they need to be successful.”

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