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Landwehr will miss Coronado 'family,' but ready to move on

Coronado Principal Marcia Landwehr in her office.
Westside Pioneer photo
       In the end, it was a choice between family and family…
       … Between the retirement dream that Marcia Landwehr had once anticipated with her husband Roderick and the chance to stay on as principal at Coronado High, where, over 10 years in all, she said, fellow staffers “have really become family.”
       She went with the original family dream, honoring her husband, who passed on about two years ago. After the end of the 2013-14 school year, Landwehr will move back to Gunnison, to a house they'd owned for 31 years and where his law practice had been. They were both going to retire after this year, but now, on her own, “I'll continue to seek adventures and have fun,” she said in a recent interview.
       She also will have more time for her two sons, Ryan (a web designer living in Costa Rica) and Josh (an Arvada police officer who's entering law school).
       A replacement process involving community members, staff and students - with District 11 School Superintendent Nick Gledich making the final decision - will begin Jan. 16 with the first round of interviews.
       Landwehr had started at Coronado in 2004 as an assistant principal. Gledich named her principal for the current school year after reassigning David Engstrom - who had been chosen through a similar community process in 2010 - to head up the new consortium of alternative schools/programs on the former Wasson High campus.
       Landwehr had previously told the school district about her plans to retire after the current school year, but an “unretirement” option exists in D-11, and when asked about future plans at the start of the year she'd said it was still unknown.
       Now, having decided, she will leave with fond memories. “Coronado is a really unique place,” she said. “I've built incredible friendships on the staff. People reach out to each other. It's the hardest part about leaving.”
       She's also been impressed by the Coronado parents and the volunteer support so many of them have offered. “They've been phenomenal,” she said. “They add such a dimension to the success of the school.”
       From an educational standpoint, she's taken administrative satisfaction in having the opportunity to “coach teachers, watch departments grow and see the rigor expand.” An example of change over the past 10 years is cell phones. Once they were banned in school as a distraction, but with the added capabilities in modern “smart phones,” they are now accepted in most classrooms as educational aids, Landwehr pointed out.
       She faced a challenge this year that few of her predecessors have seen - a sharp increase in enrollment (in large part because of the Wasson closure). The addition of about 150 students required the late hiring of five new teachers. In addition, when a Spanish teacher could not be found shortly before school started, an innovative shuffle resulted in Dean of Students Sergio Delourenco (who is technically a teacher on special assignment) taking on the job.
       Landwehr started as a teacher right after graduating from college in 1972. Her working career wasn't all in schools. Along the way, she spent 16 years as a probation officer - an experience that helped when she got back into education, she said, in being “more meticulous” and in working with students having personal problems (including drugs or alcohol) and their families.
       Landwehr is not offering any public recommendation for a person to take over as Coronado principal, although she expressed a high regard for her assistant principals and believes “it's important for the Coronado principal to be familiar with the Westside community.”
       This has helped her own transition, she elaborated, after nine years in an assistant principal role. From that experience, she feels satisfied that, however the selection process goes, “I'll hand the school over to the next person in good shape.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/17/14)