Once a Jag, always a Jag
By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Andy Abner and DCSD
Andy Abner recently announced he is leaving the principal post at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) for a deputy superintendent position in the Douglas County School District (DCSD). Abner has been with DCSD for 19 years and looks forward to many more.
Abner recognized his passion for education and the potential to create a positive impact on others’ lives while studying architecture at Illinois State University. “I realized as I was helping fellow students in the drafting lab as part of my work-study program, that I really wanted to be a teacher. I have always loved the validation that comes with education and knowing I was making a positive difference for another person.” The importance of strong community, powerful relationships, and supportive caring are the foundation of Abner’s approach to teaching and leading, both in and out of school.
Abner, originally from the Chicago area, stayed close to home when he accepted his first teaching position. He began as a technology education teacher and coach for the Neuqua Valley High School track and football teams. He also sponsored the High Mileage Vehicle Club.
Here in Douglas County, Abner taught at Douglas County High School (DCHS) for two years before shifting to dean of students for one year and then as assistant principal for six years. Following nine years as a DCHS Husky, Abner became RCHS principal and has been head Jaguar for the past decade.
“Relationships by far have been the greatest part of being the principal at RCHS. Nothing compares to watching our students and staff accomplish great things in the classrooms, stages, various competitions, on the fields and in the gym,” Abner stated.
The continued academic growth at RCHS under his watch continually surprised Abner. “Entering Rock Canyon 10 years ago, I was worried that we would not be able to realize more academic success than where we were at that time. I have been amazed and surprised to see each class continue to raise the bar each year,” Abner stated. “Our special education students and educators are solely responsible for the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award,” he continued. “I also reflect on another comparison; my first year at RCHS we had one National Merit Scholarship qualifier and this past year we had 46. This is all due to the hard work and support of our students, families and staff. There are so many data points to be proud of. One that continues to amaze me is our 98% graduation rate.”
Abner uniquely understands that strong and positive community and culture are key to success for our students and staff. He hopes his legacy at RCHS is one of respect. “I hope it is simply that I cared about and for students and staff in a way that made them feel valued and ultimately allowed them to become the best versions of themselves.”
Abner will take the same approach into his new position but acknowledges the broader scope of influence. His goals as deputy superintendent include a continuation of DCSD school community building, so “that every resident in Douglas County can be proud of” our schools and “to have our district stand out as the best in the state and one of the best in the country,” Abner commented. Abner’s hopes extend to individual students’ lives, that he can help foster a school community which helps students reach their full potential and go beyond DCSD to lead happy and productive lives.
The Abner family is settled here in the community and it is relationships that help anchor them to Castle Pines. “I value being part of the Castle Pines community. I can tell our family is making lifelong friendships, and relationships that we will always value. The great people keep us here.”