Tucked away off 75th, Heatherwood Elementary is sometimes out of sight, out of mind for Gunbarrelites. But this anchor of the community boasts a lot of talent and community engagement. We sat down with Heatherwood Principal Genna Jaramillo recently to learn her story, and how she sees the school’s role in the Gunbarrel community.
When did you start as principal of Heatherwood ES?
I started this past July, in 2016.
Are you a Boulder native?
No, I am originally from Louisiana.
What was the professional path that led you to Heatherwood then?
I have been in education since 1997—as a teacher, instructional technology specialist, then assistant principal. I was interested in continuing leadership in an elementary school, which led me to become a principal at Heatherwood.
What is Heatherwood doing that sets it apart from other elementary schools, both in the district and beyond?
Heatherwood has a high interest around design thinking and project-based learning, which sets us apart from other elementary schools. The process of using critical thinking skills to solve problems, in collaboration with others, is a life skill that is important to support.
What would you say you’re most proud of in your work at HES?
Heatherwood is known to have heart. I am proud to be a part of a caring community that is inclusive and prioritizes respect, peacefulness, perseverance as a learning community.
Gunbarrel residents are generally pretty engaged and active. In what ways would you encourage them to participate and support the school and its students?
We always welcome partnership with our community. We invite our community to contact us if a partnership is an interest. We also rely heavily on our wonderful volunteers. We can always use more people working in our schools to make Heatherwood more than just an elementary school. Our school is part of a larger community, so partnerships toward student success are ideal.
What big events/happenings can the community look forward to in 2017-18?
Heatherwood will continue to host very similar events next year as we did this past year. We are about to embark on our spring events, which include a Family Design Thinking Night this April, as well as the Heather Heatherwood in May, a fun run that has be a tradition at the school for many years. We also plan to host the traditional Boosterthon fun run in the fall.
As a principal, what do you see as your role both for the school and for the community?
I see my role as not only being a leader of the school, but also a conduit into our Gunbarrel community. We work closely with Boulder Police and Fire Departments, build partnerships with local churches, and work to increase our community outreach. We recently did a Share the Love event where our students made Valentines for many local companies. A parent delivered the Valentines and we received positive feedback in return. I am interested in learning about more ways to connect with our community and invite ideas to do so.
Last, but not least: Where would we likely find you on your days off?
I really enjoy the outdoors, especially in Colorado. I enjoy hiking, biking, and jogging on our beautiful trails around Boulder. I am also a typical mom with two active kids, so on my time off you can usually find me and my husband carpooling the kids to dance events for my daughter or sporting events for my son.