Durango School District 9-R Announces New Principal for Durango Big Picture High School

She holds a Master of Science in Counselor Education and has held licensure as a K-12 School Counselor and School Principal. Samantha served as the Coordinator of Student Support Services for Durango School District 9-R since 2018, providing leadership focused on the development and implementation of effective systems of support across district schools. In this role, she also had the unique opportunity to lead the development of programs and partnerships related to social-emotional learning and youth behavioral health, serving as program manager and liaison to multiple youth-serving agencies and organizations across the Durango community. 

“It is hard to describe how honored I feel to have the opportunity to serve as Principal for the Durango Big Picture High School community. My greatest passion and fundamental mission is to care for, empower, and support every child in their journey towards life-long success and contribution. The Big Picture Learning model and the phenomenal staff embody this mission and I am absolutely inspired here.”

Samantha has served as a community leader on the La Plata County Suicide Prevention Collaborative Steering Committee, as a board member for Celebrating Healthy Communities and the Juvenile Services Planning Committee, and as a district representative for the La Plata County Collaborative Management Program and ROAR Coalition. She also acted as facilitator for a countywide ‘Education Planning Initiative’ project, in which stakeholders from across La Plata County came together to discuss challenges facing community youth. This important work led to the development of a multi-agency youth therapeutic program in which Samantha serves as a leader and administrator. Prior to her work as a district administrator, she served as Assistant Principal at Animas Valley Elementary School, Behavior Specialist at Florida Mesa Elementary School, and as an elementary and secondary School Counselor in the state of Wisconsin.


“Samantha is an amazing addition to our Big Picture community,” says 9-R Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser..  “She brings a tremendous amount of experience and provides complimentary attributes of social-emotional expertise and core academic proficiency. She is a dynamic and charismatic leader, and with her team will inevitably create unassailable pathways of success for all students at Big Picture. Her ability to build strong relationships both within the school community and with the community at large will support the number of resources and opportunities available to students at Big Picture. Her passion for students and education will lend to the continued success of the school community.”


Samantha has lived and worked in Durango for the past 7 years and her most important role is that of mom to her daughter, Liliana, who is her whole world. 

You can learn more about Durango Big Picture High School by visiting the website at bigpicture.durangoschools.org.