Health issues to sideline Bristolís Ferguson after Ď09
Bristol Elementary Principal Steve Ferguson announced at a recent school open house that he will retire after this year. It will conclude a 23-year career with District
11, the last 12 of which have been at the Bristol helm.
In a follow-up interview, he expressed both satisfaction and sadness at his timing, because he believes the public school at 890 N. Walnut St. is moving upwards with good staff people who "just keep getting better."
Ferguson, 55, has been a key part of the changes, having overseen the development of the school's renowned historical mural, the major building upgrade that brought in hard classroom walls and air conditioning, the start of Bristol's niche as an arts magnet school and its award for Colorado Student Assess-ment Program (CSAP) improvement last year.
Emotionally, he would like to remain, but physically it's another matter. He's been fighting multiple sclerosis (MS) for close to 15 years, and its degenerative aspects could no longer be ignored. Noting that heat and stress have become growing hindrances, he commented, in regard to his retirement plans, "I might as well go out on top."
Ferguson is not one of those educators who had his career pegged from the start. Working as an enlisted man at the Air Force Academy, he lived with friends who "had kids running around." The fun he had with them got him thinking that teaching might be a good path. But he wasn't sure, and even worked a while as a wine salesman before he finally made up his mind and earned a teaching certificate.
His first job was a one-year position, teaching fourth grade at Monroe Elementary. Happily, Principal John Kerr hired him for another year, then brought Ferguson along when he became principal at then-new Chipeta Elementary.
Meanwhile, Ferguson was studying for an educational masters degree that would qualify him to become a principal. His first move into administration was two years as assistant principal at Henry Elementary, followed by another year split between Carver and Grant.
Then came the Bristol principal assignment, and Ferguson has been there ever since.
District 11 doesn't have a "principal emeritus" category, but Ferguson may qualify in a de facto sort of way. He wants to stay involved with the school, even after he steps down, as part of the committee that helps support and plan the school's art program.
His school volunteer wishes don't end with Bristol. He'd be open to assisting at other elementary schools as well. It should be fine with his MS issues; volunteering occasionally is hardly as demanding as running a school, day in, day out, he noted.
Other retirement wishes involve catching up on yard work, finding some kind of low-stress job and "losing some weight," he laughed.
Ferguson and his wife June have two children (one an '05 Coronado grad), both of whom still live in Colorado. Ferguson also has a stepson and stepdaughter and a grandson.
One of the things he'll miss most after leaving Bristol will be the close-knit feeling of the Westside. He has often heard comments such as, "Hey, Mr. Ferguson, my dad went here." He even has a personal story in that regard: "The grandmother of a Bristol kid was my den mother when I was a kid."
All in all, looking back, "I'm really glad the school district decided to put me over here," he said.
Westside Pioneer article