Principal Profile: Chris Tabeling
Get To Know Chris Tabeling
1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I work with incredibly inspirational people. From the students and staff at ThunderRidge, to the parents and feeder schools, the ThunderRidge community is a special place. It feels like one big extended family.
2. Who inspires you?
I find inspiration in a lot of different ways. Of course, my family is my greatest inspiration. I have an amazing wife, Kristin, and two daughters, Caitlyn (14) and Jayna (11), who regularly inspire me to be a better person.
We currently have a student battling a serious form of cancer, he inspires me. We have staff members who make a difference in students' lives every day, they inspire me. We have students who go above and beyond to help others, they inspire me. I was recently inspired by the way Erin Kane treated one of our employees!
3. What was your first job?
My first job in education was as a math teacher and coach in the Widefield School District, south of Colorado Springs.
4. If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
I don't know that I could think about doing anything else. I suppose it would be something related to helping others, like a Firefighter!?
5. What's an interest or hobby you have that not a lot of people might not know about you?
I love to mountain bike. I've had to put that on pause for a while because of chemotherapy treatments, but it is still a goal of mine to ride with the ThunderRidge Mountain Bike Club.
6. What's your favorite item on the school lunch menu?
You can't go wrong with anything on our school lunch menu.
7. Do you have any pets?
We just lost our long time dog, Harry. But, we have a 6 month old Bouvier puppy named Maximus.
8. What was your first car?
It was a total wreck. I had a 1979 Toyota Celica that originally came with an 8-track player and was four different colors.
9.What advice would you give to a college graduate who is entering the field of teaching?
Learn from the master teachers in your building. Every building has teachers doing exceptional work, learn from them! In fact, we have set up a Teacher Residency Program at ThunderRidge that partners new teachers with master teachers to accelerate the learning/growth cycle. We are seeing a lot of success with our new teachers (shout out to Dave Stickland, our PLS who coordinates the program!).
10. If you could be any superhero, who would you choose to be?
I would heal others. I'm a pretty big superhero geek, but I don't know of one that has the power to heal others.
HIGHLANDS RANCH - In just a few weeks, ThunderRidge High School students and staff will wrap up another school year filled with traditions, memories, creating lifelong relationships and achieving goals. For ThunderRidge principal, Chris Tabeling this time of year is one of the most rewarding and special parts of the year; watching students and staff work through the school year and develop different skills and then get the opportunity to showcase their knowledge a variety of ways; like Senior Boards or celebrating long standing high school traditions like welcoming the incoming Freshman or saying good bye to the Seniors. All the events make the end of the year very special place at ThunderRidge.
“The best part is I get to BE the principal of ThunderRidge High School, because it’s an amazing school. We have incredible traditions that we have been celebrating since the school opened and we have a fantastic community. I have learned that through my own recent personal journey with a pretty serious medical issue. But this community has been amazing and at every turn they make me smile. Our kids are amazing and they do incredible things when they are out in the community or competing on a field or a court or even things like DECA and ProStart where they are achieving things,” says Tabeling.
This is the third school year Chris Tabeling has been principal. Prior to that he was an Assistant Principal at TRHS for seven years and worked in different middle and high schools as a math teacher, dean, and even a coach for both football and track. But it wasn’t until college when he got serious about working in education.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated High School. I felt like so many of the kids that come into my office and tell me they don’t know what they want to do. I was the first one in my family to ever go to college- so I didn’t know what I was going to do, just that I was going to college,” says Tabling. “My grandfather mentioned, you are good at math – maybe you should be an accountant. I took two accounting classes my freshman year and hated it. I wanted more interaction. I was tutoring several students and athletes at the time in math and thought, maybe I’ll be a Math teacher. I took some education classes and loved it. It was one of those things I was naturally drawn to and already doing.”
Having the chance to work at ThunderRidge is an opportunity he’s grateful for every day.
“I feel so humble and proud to serve as the principal at ThunderRidge High School. It is such an amazing community. I left and then had the opportunity to come back and I jumped at it because this place is so amazing. We have staff members who leave and then come back because they love it here. We have four or five graduates who now teach here. This is just such a special place. It’s the perfect job for me,” adds Tabeling.
One of the reasons Tabeling says the school is truly one of the best in the state for high school students, is they look at the needs of each individual student and how they can best prepare them for the future.
Tabeling says, “there is something for every kid at ThunderRidge high school as long as they want to get involved. I think that’s something that’s really cool. We have almost 30 athletic teams and over 50 clubs that kids can get involved in. We try to find ways to meet kids’ needs and I think we’ve always been responsive to those needs and that’s something I will always continue.”
But beyond reaching kids at individual levels, TRHS also strives to ensure students are building long-lasting relationships and creating programs that allow teachers and staff to get to know kids individually, helping to ensure they don’t fall in-between the cracks.
“I can remember the days when we had 1300 kids wandering the hallways and now we are at 2100. To every kid it still feels like a small place because they have places like seminar where they can go and talk to a teacher and not have to worry about math, english or that type of stuff. They can just engage and build relationships,” says Tabeling. “I think that’s the foundation of ThunderRidge is about building quality relationships whether its among staff or staff to students or between students. We build really strong relationships we get a lot of our alumni stay in touch and let us know how they are doing. I am excited to be here. I love this place I can’t see myself being anywhere else.”