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MEET YOUR PRINCIPAL Amber Hertneky, Sunset Park Elementary School

Wearing a yellow suit, Amber Hertneky stands against a wall at her schoolAfter starting her education career as a sixth-grade teacher at Sunset Park, Amber will now lead the school as Principal, taking the reins from longtime leader John Hull.

Although education wasn’t Amber’s first career choice, she has embraced the opportunity to improve the lives of children.

“I originally started in sales and marketing in Columbus, Ohio,” she said. “I was born and raised there but have made Pueblo my home for the last 15 years. I realized quickly realized once I moved to Pueblo that the sales world was not for me and wanted to pursue my passion of being an educator.

“I chose education as a career to help students find their voice. I love to see my students thrive and grow. Every year I am so proud to see the students I had in my classroom thriving and

giving back to their community as adults. It makes my heart happy to know I have planted a little bit of a seed in their future.

"I think education helps students find who they are and what they are passionate about. I came into education to make a difference in students and their path in life.”

After moving to Pueblo, Amber enrolled at Colorado State University Pueblo and pursued a degree in Elementary Education, which she received in 2014. She later earned a Master in Education: Learning and Technology, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership.

“My first position right out of college was teaching sixth grade at Sunset Park,” she said. “I then moved to a fifth-grade ELA position within the first two years. I knew it was home the moment I stepped into the building. The staff and leadership were so welcoming and helped me find my path as an educator.”

While an ELA teacher, Amber stepped into the role of Lighthouse Coordinator role and has headed the Leader in Me building leadership team since 2018.

“During that time, we have been named a Lighthouse school three different times,” she said. “It was during this time I found my passion for leadership. I don’t think I ever saw myself leaving the classroom. I loved teaching students and seeing them grow each year. Our Leader in Me coach really nudged me into pursing a leadership focus and from there the rest was history.”

After earning her Master’s in Educational Leadership, Amber began her role in administration as Dean of Students.

“I have loved every step of my journey here at Sunset,” she said. “Without the help of our Principal John Hull, this path would have looked much different. He helped guide and mold me into the leader I am today. Having him as a mentor has been invaluable to me growing as a leader and stepping into the principal role.”

As Sunset Park’s new Principal, Amber is eager to excite and empower the Yearlings, staff and community.

“I love that our students are encouraged to find their leadership at such an early age. It helps pave the way for amazing things in their future. My style of leadership is one that focuses on restorative practices while encouraging staff autonomy and upholding high expectations for students and staff. I promote growth and development amongst my staff and emphasize collaboration, empathy, and accountability for all.

“By focusing on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I am able to foster a supportive and inclusive environment where folks are empowered to take ownership of their actions and learning.

I am passionate about continuing the growth and success of Sunset Park.”

Although not a Pueblo native, Amber is fully committed to doing her part to ensure the community thrives.

“My husband Brian is a Pueblo native and we are invested in making sure Pueblo continues to thrive. As soon as I moved to Pueblo, I felt it was important to dive into the community and learn as much as possible about Pueblo. I joined the Junior League of Pueblo as a volunteer and quickly joined the board of directors as the Community Impact chair and became President for the 2015-2016 year.

“The leadership experiences I learned during that time were invaluable to me and helped guide me to educational leadership as well.”

The Hertnekys have two children, ages 7 and 4. The eldest child attends Sunset Park and the younger will follow.