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El Paso County Colorado District 49

School year begins with new CEO

Falcon School District 49 has a new chief education officer on board to help kick off the 2013-2014 school year. Peter Hilts comes to the district with plenty of experience. For the last 10 years, he has been in various leadership positions at the Classical Academy Charter School in Academy School District 20.Hilts has also been a consultant for D 49ís innovation zones.Within the Classical Academy Charter School, Hilts held the positions of high school principal, director of strategic programs and director of educationItís his experience as a consultant for D 49 that gave him a leg up in landing the CEO position, he said. ìI think leaders and community members in D 49 are very committed to innovation as a locally led initiative,î Hilts said. ìI was able to be specific about the challenges and opportunities and that specificity resonated with people who live in those communities and zones.îTwo aspects of his experience with D 20 are particularly helpful in his role as CEO, Hilts said. ìOne is that the charter school ecosystem has a lot of independence and resourcefulness,î he said. ìD 49 invites that kind of experience and leadership. And two, the opportunity to work with the K through 12 system ñ I supervised principals, worked closely with the board. I think those are all things that the CEO of D 49 has to do.îGrowing up in rural Alaska fostered Hiltsí own qualities of ìindependence and resourcefulness,î he said. ìI was born north of the Arctic Circle in Kotzebue, Alaska, which is a small Eskimo fishing town,î he said. ìThen, I lived in south central Alaska in Seldovia. Both towns are (an) off-the-road system (not connected to any road system). Being raised in rural Alaska Ö growing up in that kind of environment makes me appreciate challenges as opportunities more than inconveniences.îHilts went to college in California, where he met his wife. After they married, the couple lived in Minnesota and North Carolina before settling in Colorado.The Hilts have six children, five have graduated from high school and one is just entering middle school. ìThe central part of my identity, including my professional identity, is being a husband and parent of six kids,î Hilts said. ìOur children are as complicated as any other group of six individuals. Some are adopted; some we raised from birth. Some are scholars; some are athletes. Being a part of English language learners and special needs kids has made me a more empathetic educator. Thereís this incredible diversity around the dinner table, which makes me more excited and more committed to understanding the diversity of this district.îHis favorite meal at the dinner table includes ìlarge quantities of authentic Ethiopian food,î Hilts said. ìThe integration of our kids from Ethiopia invokes the blessing of being a family together.îTo bring the D 49 family together, Hiltsí goal is to establish consistency within the administrative team.ìI want to project and then actually deliver stability and longevity for the leadership of the district,î Hilts said. ìThe best leadership that I am aware of is to ëdo the next right thing.í Every time a challenge or opportunity comes up or we make a mistake or accomplish something, then we should do the ënext right thing.í If we make a mistake, we should admit it and fix it. Thatís the ënext right thing.í If you do enough right things in a row, you build confidence and momentum, which builds participation.ìWhile Iím aware that all schools and school systems are challenged right now, I am irrepressibly optimistic and excited about the future of Falcon (D 49). This is the place for energetic and enthusiastic educators, and thatís why I wanted to be here so badly.î

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