Telluride Mountain School: Shoff New Head Of School

Michael Bradley, board chair, Telluride Mountain School, wrote the following about long-time educator Andy Shoff. For us, the happy announcement about Andy becoming new Head of School is personal: his wife Emily, a teacher and writer, is also a long-time contributor to Telluride Inside.. and Out. We celebrate with the Shoffs and Mountain School. Great choice. Great family. Great future for all involved.

Andy Shoff, long-timed educator and Telluride local is new head of Telluride Mountain School.


Shoff family in Thailand


Andy Shoff participating in Biology Class with seniors Gorio and Aidan.


Shoff at Grayhead, Telluride.


The Telluride Mountain School (TMS) Board of Trustees is extraordinarily happy to announce that Andy Shoff has accepted our offer to serve as our next Head of School, starting in the Fall of 2018.

Andy, of course, needs no introduction.  He has a longstanding commitment to independent school education and has been on the staff of TMS for 16 years. Andy has served as a teacher, Dean of Studies, Head of the Upper School and, most recently, as the Associate Head of School.

Andy holds a BA in Geology from Colorado College as well as a degree in Private School Leadership from Columbia University Teacher’s College Klingenstein Center for Private School Leadership and he serves on the board of the Pinhead Institute. He has also traveled much of the world and is an accomplished outdoorsman.

And many of you also know Andy’s wife and TMS teacher, Emily Shoff, and their two girls, Siri and Quincy, who have been at TMS since pre-school.

While at TMS, Andy has direct responsibility for many of the school’s highest priorities.

  • Worked with the board and larger school community to develop strategic plans
  • Helped lead both the initial and most recent accreditations by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools
  • Developed and implemented the IB program
  • Developed and led over 30 outdoor education trips

Andy has intimate knowledge of Telluride, our school community, and all the unique programs TMS offers. You know him, and he knows you, and this familiarity is certainly one of the reasons the board offered him the position. However, Andy’s unequalled knowledge of our school community and program was not the only reason why he was selected from a very talented pool of applicants to be the next head of school.

The Board undertook a very considered and thorough process to determine what qualities were most important in the TMS headship. We conducted focus groups with parents, faculty, staff, and advisory trustees to learn about everyone’s hopes for the school moving forward, as well as the qualities our community is looking for in its next head.

Based on what we learned from the focus groups, and in consultation with an independent school head search consultant, we conducted a broad search for candidates. Specifically, we were looking for candidates who had:

1) served in a leadership position at an independent school;

2) knowledge of Montessori and International Baccalaureate education;

3) experience in outdoor learning; and,

4) the ability and desire to live in a very unique mountain community like Telluride.

We also prioritized finding a head who has the potential to continue Karen Walker’s legacy of growth in enrollment, building relationships with the broader Telluride and independent school communities, implementing best practices to professionalize TMS, and ensure financial security and continuity for school.

We received over 20 resumes. There were many highly qualified candidates. We selected three finalists for extended interviews, one of whom was Andy. Faculty and staff also had an opportunity to interview the candidates and provide feedback. After this thorough process, the board determined unanimously that Andy was the very best person to lead the school.

This coming school year will be a year of transition, with Karen still serving as head, and Karen and Andy working together to effect a smooth handoff of the headship starting in September 2018. A year of overlap, with the old head and new head working together, is an optimal scenario for a change in leadership for an independent school. We are very fortunate to be in this position.

So we warmly offer Andy our congratulations. We look forward to working with him as fruitfully in the future as we have in the past, and working together with the entire Mountain School community to make our school the very best it can possibly be.


Michael Bradley

For the Board

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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