Letter to the Editor: Unequivocal Support for Aspen Principal

Letter to the Editor

The April 21 story reporting a lawsuit filed by Zeynep Unal against Los Alamos Public Schools and Kathryn Vandenkieboom, principal at Aspen Elementary, was incredibly disheartening. 

The story, particularly the wording in the lawsuit, portrayed Kathryn much differently than the child and family advocate we know. We would like readers to know that Kathryn.

Five years ago, when it was announced that Kathryn would lead Aspen as our principal, cheers of joy rang out! We were thrilled to be working with a woman fresh from the classroom and one we all respected to make decisions, ultimately leading Aspen in a positive direction for the children and families in attendance. We have not been disappointed. 

The first striking quality of Kathryn is her diplomatic approach to leadership. Hundreds of decisions are made weekly that directly affect staff and students at Aspen, and even though it would be easier to make decisions by herself, she is always sure to hear differing opinions and points of view, ensuring that decisions are thoughtful, represent the greater good, and ultimately are good for children.  She approaches her work with the families at Aspen through PTO, Site Council, IEPs, and Love & Logic parenting classes, in much the same manner; always taking time to hear a parent out or listening to a child’s side of the story before making decisions. As with life, not all decisions are popular, but we can trust that hers were made with the very best intentions.

Spend any amount of time with Kathryn and one will realize the strong ethics and caring spirit she possesses. Whether she is working with a child who is troubled, an angry or uncertain parent, or a teacher who needs guidance, she is always honest and fair. She refrains from passing judgement and is simply kind in her words and actions, thus modeling her expectation of staff members and students that all are to be treated with respect and care.

Aspen is a richly diverse school with children from different cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences. She loves these students and understands that for them to be successful, they must have a strong educational foundation. As a result, Kathryn has high expectations of her staff because children deserve high-caliber teachers. She recognizes that teachers are the most important factor in student learning, and an integral part of her job is the development of her teachers. She brings forth and supports, monetarily and in her daily decision-making, programs that positively impact students. Mindup, Being A Writer, Everyday Math, yoga for primary students, Intel math classes, and professional book studies are a sampling of the quality programs she has initiated.

Kathryn’s dedication to Aspen School and its staff, students, and families is no less than remarkable. She spends hours after school and on weekends prepping for each new week, while raising her own family and never failing to arrive at work with a smile. She is the utmost professional: always trustworthy, conscientious, and principled. Aspen is the cohesive staff it is because Kathryn has created a working environment that feels more like a home than a school. We are grateful each day that she is our leader and we can only hope justice will prevail in this lawsuit. We offer her our unequivocal support.


Jenny Diesburg-Lathrop, Jane Shortencarrier,Christian Stone, Carol Kirby, Ivanna Austell, Lisa Mietz, Shannon Trujillo, Darel Madrid, Terry DuBois, Ronda Harmon, Andrea R. Dowdy,    Brittney Newman, Chelly Young, Suzy Koehn, Britt Williams, Amy Gilbert, Suzanne Lynne, Stacy A. Martens, Elizabeth Ritchie, Luci Bowman, Jenny Gallegos, Sheri Davis, Michelle Gustafson, Shelley Morey, Sharon Allen, Megan Jackson, Ernestine Garcia, Kathryn L. Anderson, Barbara Poston, Graciela Trujillo, Alisa Rolfe, Jan White, Cate Nickless, Laurinda Bennett, Heather Coy, Petra McDowell and Veronica Lopez.


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