Buena Vista principal retiring
Rasmussen led school for 17 years, helped start Montessori

       Alan Rasmussen has announced his retirement, effective at the end of this semester, after 17 years as principal of Buena Vista Elementary .
       He leaves after helping shepherd in the first public-school Montessori program in the Pikes Peak region this year.
       “It's purely my choice,” he said in an interview with the Westside Pioneer.
       “There's no pressure. I've done this a long time, I've seen it from a lot of angles, and I'm ready to do other things with my life.”
       He will also be leaving School District 11, in which he has worked for 22 years. Originally from Michigan, Rasmussen has been in education 31 years in all.
       He said a major reason for retiring now is the way the district's early-retirement program functions. At age 52, he is eligible to start receiving a pension this year. However, the program is about to change so that after this year, the retirement age becomes 55.
       He's also not feeling quite as young, he commented wryly. “I didn't mind when the kids called me 'Dad,' but when they call me 'Grandpa,' it's time to go.”
       He has no big plans for his future free time. He listed such hobbies as travel, gardening and reading. Trained as a speech pathologist, Rasmussen can also see himself taking clients part-time in the private sector.
       But he'll miss leading a school that he believes is a “central focus to the neighborhood.” Former students often drop by to tell of past attendance at Buena Vista, which was built in 1911. One such woman left a copy of a roughly 1920 photo, when she was a child and the school was all by itself, with no houses built yet around it.
       “It's been a gift to be on the Westside,” Rasmussen said. “There's a definite caring for people here. Parents try to instill that in their children, and kids try to help other kids. There's a lot of diversity on the Westside, and everyone feels that's pretty much OK.”
       A new Buena Vista principal has not yet been hired. Rasmussen said the district is trying to find someone with Montessori training.
       Although he himself did not come from a Montessori background, he lauds the educational method for containing “numerous fundamental and common sense ideas about how children learn, grow and develop.” He has worked with parent volunteers to set in motion the gradual transformation that will make Buena Vista into a Montes-sori-only school within a few years.
       “It gives Buena Vista a future,” Ras-mussen said, predicting that Montessori's presence will keep the school open and bring about higher test scores. At the same time, he remains sensitive to the concerns of some in the neighborhood who either can't afford the ages 3-5 Montessori tuition or who might prefer a school with traditional educational techniques.
       In his April column in the school's Tiger Times newsletter, Rasmussen writes: “I cannot find enough ways to say thank you for all the years of support that I have received in this neighborhood and from the several generations of Buena Vista families I have known. It is heartwarming to know that I have touched your lives and made this great Westside neighborhood a little nicer because of my stay at Buena Vista.”

Westside Pioneer article