I was pleased to see Diane Joens’ lovely testimonial to Jennifer Chilton, who did an outstanding job as Principal at Mingus Union High School. It inspired me to write one of my own that is overdue.
I am a parent of a recent Mingus graduate and also had the pleasure of serving on the Mingus Union High School Site Council for 2 years. The Site Council is a group of a few parents and some Mingus high school staff chaired by ex-principal Jennifer Chilton. My involvement with Jennifer began when she reinstituted the Site Council after years of inactivity as a means of connecting with the community. (Sadly, there were very few community volunteers despite repeated recruitment efforts by Jennifer). The meetings were very open and informative, always on time and professionally run by Jennifer. She encouraged discussion, listened to new ideas and provided opportunities for site council members to play an active role. I got to know her fairly well, admired her, and thought she was a great administrator. Just my opinion based observations.
I found Ex-principal Chilton to be a talented, dynamic, hard-working woman who was obviously focused on making Mingus great. Jennifer’s dedication paid off in well documented school accomplishments which were often showcased by the Verde Independent. Mingus has received numerous awards and excels state-wide in many activities during her tenure. We are all aware of the fantastic Mingus theater productions that have received such acclaim as well as many successful athletic and academic pursuits. Mingus’ agricultural and vocational programs are also excellent, and you should have been at their band concert!
Mingus is a good school and does well with limited resources. Its statewide academic rankings have increased during her tenure. Her administration actively encouraged and persistently assisted on college preparation activities. The number of Mingus graduates going to college is stunning for this rural community, as is the amount of scholarship money received.
Given what I know of Jennifer’s administration of the school, I am at a loss as to why she got terminated so abruptly. Jennifer had a lot of experience, great ideas, and knew how to connect with and manage students. She was trying to improve discipline and teacher communication, as well a community outreach. She worked hard, had the kid’s best interests in mind, and tackled difficult issues with a smile on her face.
And, clearly, Jennifer is a great mom as shown by your articles about Phoebe Chilton. Heck, would you want your kids to grow up like one of Jennifer’s?
As I watched Jennifer calmly preside over graduation activities, I was struck at how bittersweet it would be to see your daughter graduate from the school that you were forced to leave.
Jennifer was terminated very abruptly… I remember that the reason mentioned in your paper is the new person coming in is now going to play two roles, one of which she wasn’t hired for. Seriously, being shown to the door for no apparent reason is no fun for anyone…and Jennifer is a Verde Valley treasure. I am blissfully ignorant of the politics…could someone please explain this to me?
Former Mingus Union High School site council member