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Andy Walden

GRANADA Schools- Granada-Huntley-East Chain (GHEC) has appointed Andy Walden, dean of students at Vermont High School, to replace outgoing high school principal Taylor Topinka. Topinka is appointed as a superintendent at the United South Central School District.

Before becoming dean of students, Walden graduated from Mankato State University in 2008 with a major in secondary social studies education. After graduation he was a substitute teacher for two years in Mankato, New Ulm, and Waseca. In 2010 he was appointed as a substitute education teacher for grades 7-12 at Waseca. After two and a half years in that position, he became an eighth-grade social studies student at Waseca before transferring to Vermont in 2018. At Vermont he spent one year as a sixth-grade teacher, two years as a seventh-grade high school teacher and two years as dean of students. In 2015 he received his MA in Teaching and Learning from Saint Mary’s University and in 2024 he obtained his Department of Education and Master Licensure from Saint Mary’s as well.

As dean of students, Walden provides administrative support to Vermont’s building managers. His current responsibilities primarily include ensuring students meet high school academic standards and ensuring that those who fall behind receive appropriate support.

“I’ve always loved kids, helping kids, working with kids, it’s obviously great to develop those relationships,” Walden said.

Walden is married to Vermont High School culinary teacher Jane Garbers, and they live with their children in Southern Vermont.

Walden said he had long had a goal of becoming a high school principal and opening at GHEC was an unexpected opportunity to do so.

“It was something I wanted to do and eventually become a manager. I didn’t realize it was going to happen so quickly,” she said. Walden said.

While Walden has moved between jobs frequently throughout his career, he said he hopes he can stay at GHEC permanently and eventually renew his three-year contract with the District.

“My family is committed to the area, and we have no plans to go everywhere. I hope I can develop into the job, and become a big part of the communities there,” Walden said.

Walden’s contract at Vermont will expire in June and he will officially begin work at GHEC the following month. GHEC is in the very early stages of planning its transition. Walden says his immediate goal is to integrate into the school as quickly as possible.

“The biggest (goal) of moving to Granada is to understand what their district’s goals are, what their school board’s goals are, what their initiatives are (and) what they’re working for,” Walden said.

He said he had yet to outline any further specific agenda for his freshman year, but indicated that he wanted to ensure high levels of student achievement.

“Since I started teaching, one thing I’ve always valued has been having high expectations for students, developing positive relationships with students (and) doing our best every day,” Walden said.

Vermont District Schools has not yet decided whether to appoint a new dean of students to replace Walden at the high school.

“I know these are discussions that are taking place right now and I think those decisions will be made in the next week or two,” he said. Walden said.

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