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Ivan Kershner

Ivan Kershner (CO '95)


At the time of the Award, Ivan Kershner was:

Eagle Valley High School
Gypsum, CO

Biographical Information

Under the leadership of its principal, Ivan Kershner, Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum has developed an advanced applied technology program. The program is particularly innovative in light of the school's small enrollment (402 students) and its remote location in the west-central portion of the Colorado Rockies. More than half of the students at Eagle Valley High School are involved in the daily use of computers and they can attend a wide variety of courses in computer drafting, computer technology and computer math. Mr. Kershner's commitment to an exceptional program in applied technology is equaled by his support of strong traditional programs in woodworking, building trades and welding. Mr. Kershner has also initiated local business/education partnerships, a mentoring program with the Gypsum Elementary School, and a highly successful campus crime-fighting program.

Personal Message

IVAN KERSHNER Growing up “poor and on horseback” as part of a ranching family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota (Lakota Sioux) provided Ivan with opportunities and perspectives rare in today’s world. As one of a class of three students in a one-room rural school, Ivan learned early on the benefits of literacy and its ability to open up the world. Uniquely, Ivan was a minority in a Native culture not far removed from its roots in the open plains (e.g., his family’s hired man, Paul Bear Saves Life, had been a baby at the Massacre at Wounded Knee and Ivan’s best friend was Chucky Looking Elk). Ivan has never forgotten these foundational life lessons. Influenced by his own teachers, Ivan determined that he, too, would become an educator. He was able to achieve his goal by earning a full-ride college scholarship for his high school academic success. Receiving his B.S. in English and Speech Communication and M.S. in Secondary School Administration at Chadron State College in Nebraska (1970 and 1974), Ivan began teaching in Wyoming as a secondary English teacher and debate coach, eventually moving into secondary administration. He has served as principal in a small rural k-12 school in Nebraska, a large high school in North Platte, Nebraska, a blended “ rich-poor-rural-Hispanic “ high school in the Vail, Colorado, valley, and as instructional vice-principal in a South Carolina middle school. In 1985 Ivan received his Ed.S. degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. At North Platte, he also served as the assistant superintendent for two years. He has forty-one years of experience with a wide range of students and teachers in a variety of settings. In “retirement” Ivan works with Clemson University as a Supervisor of Student Teachers, specializing in secondary education. From experience he has found that while university students are typically well-versed in content, they often struggle with the day-to-day, moment-to-moment procedures that effectively transfer their knowledge into understandable student lessons. As such, he is a master of methodologies that assist student educators as they transition into confident initial educators who can not only teach, but assess, modify, and develop high-performing students. In 1984 Ivan received recognition from First Lady Nancy Reagan for developing Forum 15, a community outreach for at-risk students. In 1989, as one of ten educators in the nation, he received a Countdown 2001 award for “refocusing curriculum toward a 21st. Century agenda and for encouraging other educational leaders to likewise.” In 1994 he was national co-chair of Build Me a Future with Pro-Teach’s founder Frank Trujillo. In 1995 he received both the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Colorado and a National Educator Award for Excellence from the Milken Family Foundation. He has had numerous professional articles published through his career (e.g., NASSP Bulletin, The Principal’s Private Letters, Journal of Educational Public Relations, Pro-Principal, Education World, Discipline Quarterly, Middle Ground, SCASA Insight). He is also an on-line columnist for, where he is known as Mr. Ivan, the Principal Poet. Ivan is certified as a superintendent, elementary principal, secondary principal, elementary supervisor, and secondary supervisor. Additionally, Ivan has said, “After receiving intensive training and screening from Tribal Group, I am also now certified as a teacher preparation program inspector.” In his spare time, he tutors a fifth-grade girl in foster care, plays harmonica in a bluegrass and country band, and golfs with a seventeen handicap, and serves as academic advisor to Saffron Public School in Phagwara, India. His wife, Lynn, is a master restorer of damaged and antique oil paintings. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Related Connections

Article: The Principal Poet

Additional Information


1970 Chadron State College, B.S/M.S.; University of Nebraska at Kearney, Ed.S.

Teacher Preparation Program Inspector for Tribal

Discipline, Teacher Supervision and Instructional Strategies (6-12)