Conifer High School Principal Leaving

School administration restructures to fill vacancy


Corey Neumeier

Wesley Paxton welcomes students during the 2022-2023 Rite of Passage ceremony to celebrate the first day of the new school year

Conifer High School Principal Wesley Paxton will be leaving the school September 6 to become an interim Jefferson County Community Superintendent. Paxton accepted the position last week, resulting in sudden changes to school administration. Current Assistant Principal Gregory Manier will become interim Principal, and CHS Learning Specialist Bradley Horner will become the school’s interim Assistant Principal.

“It’s definitely difficult. I knew there would be a shock factor to it all when I found I got the job, but I try to reduce the anxiety because the administrative people I have coming in are great people and they’re going to do a great job,” Paxton said.

Gregory Manier has been the Assistant Principal at CHS for 10 years, working closely with Paxton.

“I’ve really learned so much from (Paxton) that it should hopefully be a smooth transition,” Manier said.

Manier spoke about how students will not experience changes to their school day under the new administration, but the administrative change two weeks into the school year raises questions for many. For Senior Class President Jackson Davidson, the loss of Paxton as a Student Government mentor is particularly difficult.

“He always tries so hard with the group and he works to make sure everything’s on schedule,” Davidson said. “I respect (Paxton’s) ability to be both an administrator and somebody that we can depend on.”

Paxton has been the principal at CHS for nine years and intends to remain active in the community by attending CHS sporting events and graduation this year. As a Jeffco Community Superintendent, he will be responsible for training principals from around the district on how to best support their schools.

Bradley Horner’s promotion to Assistant Principal will leave CHS without a learning specialist. As the school works to fill this role Horner will continue to teach two study skills classes in addition to taking on the responsibilities of Assistant Principal.

”I’m going to keep these classes and ensure those kids are supported until we figure out a way to support them better, and that’s going to be an ongoing conversation,” Horner said.

This is Horner’s second year working at CHS, and though he was only offered the position on August 26 he has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and has been seeking an administrative position for some time.

“When I was moving up here I was looking for leadership opportunities, but took the job at Conifer because of Manier and the interview I had,” Horner said. “I was like, ‘this place is pretty awesome.’”

As Assistant Principal Horner will take charge of managing school testing and some discipline, among other tasks. Horner hopes to use the position to aid students.

“Yes, I’ll have to have more negative interactions than I do now, but sometimes those negative interactions can be turned positive. It’s easier to do that as an Assistant Principal,” Horner said.

Horner is looking forward to having a larger presence in the school. Right now his office is what used to be a copy room, tucked in the back corner of the school’s science faculty room. Next week, though, he will be moving to the front office.

“Having this opportunity is phenomenal,” Horner said. “I couldn’t have pictured a better fit for me than in this role.”

The new position is a better fit for Manier, too. He wants to maintain the way the school is currently run, but looks forwards to working with students and teachers more closely.

“I think that there’s a perception that if you do something wrong you’re gonna have to go see Manier, and I’m glad that I can change that perception because it’s a hard one for me,” Manier said. “When I get up in the morning I just want to see kids successful.”

As school administration adjusts to these new positions there will be what Horner describes as a “trickle-down process,” where the former administrator works with their successor during this transition period. 

“I appreciate all the kind words and concern that people are sharing with me, but we’re in a good place,” Paxton said.