In the late 1980s, a young man accepted his first teaching job in Granada. Within 10 years, he would take on an administrative role in the district - a decision that would eventually lead him to Fowler.
In the late 1980s, a young man accepted his first teaching job in Granada.
Within 10 years, he would take on an administrative role in the district - a decision that would eventually lead him to Fowler.
And now, 31 years after first entering the education field, Fowler Superintendent Steven Grasmick is retiring.
“It’s been a good run here,” Grasmick said about his time in Fowler. His retirement will be effective at the end of June. “I have always said that Fowler School District R4J is truly the best school district in the Arkansas Valley.”
After graduating from Las Animas High School and growing up in rural America, Grasmick entered college with his mind set on becoming a veterinarian. After his first year of college, and influenced by his mother, who was in the education field, he decided to change direction.
In 1986, he was hired as an industrial arts teacher in Granada. As with many small towns, his job duties weren’t limited to just teaching in the classroom. He was a bus driver, wrestling, track and football coach and also helped with basketball. Eventually, he moved up to the position of principal at Granada.
On July 4, 1996, he received a call from then Fowler Superintendent Dr. Larry Vibber who offered him a job as elementary principal. At that time, Fowler’s elementary classes were located in Park School and West School.
With his three kids - ranging in age from a first-grader to a little over 1 year old - Grasmick packed his bags and headed to Fowler.
During his time as principal, he again served many other roles: district assessment coordinator, federal program director, coach, Title 1 director, student council sponsor, homeless liaison contact, ELL coordinator, gifted and talented coordinator, special education designee, science fair coordinator, “official tooth puller.”
His philosophy over the years has been to help make students excel in life and that leadership eventually saw him move into the combined superintendent/elementary principal job after Dr. Vibber passed away in 2009.
“He was a great mentor and friend,” Grasmick said about Vibber. “He had a big influence on my philosophy.”
The consistency that carried over from Dr. Vibber’s era into Grasmick’s era - there have only been 11 school board members since Grasmick was hired in 1996 - has helped the school district continue to excel in academics and athletics.
“I’ve had an outstanding staff,” Grasmick said. “Great teamwork. And the kids - the kids have kept me going. We all want the kids to excel. I’ve pushed them and the staff members in the best way possible.”
Although he credits the staff as being an intricate part of the school’s success, Grasmick has been the driving force behind many of the Fowler School District’s major accomplishments:
• The planning, construction and completion of Fowler Elementary School in 2003. This project brought all elementary grades into one building. “The community came together and we passed this (bond issue),” Grasmick said. “This was a good thing for Fowler.”
• Larry Vibber Field and Track Renovation in 2010. Fowler had a square track and it is now oval.
• The gym floor project and renovation. He said his parents raised him to believe, “If you’re going to do something, leave it better than when you found it.”
• 2007 Demont Award Recipient - Colorado Outstanding Rural Administrator
• 2008 Colorado Elementary Principal of the Year Candidate
• Securing millions in grant money, ranging from playground and fitness trail grants to anti-bullying and health grants.
But his proudest moments with the Fowler School District involved his family.
After moving to Fowler, Grasmick married Penny and their families blended and became one unit - a successful unit - graduating five children from Fowler High School; all of his children were a state champion or multiple state champions, as well as valedictorian and salutatorian titles within them. “Fowler did well with my kids,” Grasmick said. “I’m proud that they graduated from here.”
He’s also proud of the success his wife Penny - a longtime music teacher who is also retiring from the Fowler School District after 16 years and with nearly three decades of teaching altogether. “There were eight kids in band when she started,” Grasmick said. “Now, there’s 55 in band and it’s one of the best in the valley.”
She brought dance, movements, theatrics into the music room and has also taught art. She received a grant for a piano lab, teaching students lifelong skills.
As the couple transitions into retirement and traveling and a future full of possibilities, there’s one thing Grasmick knows for sure.
“I’ll be a Fowler Grizzly forever.”