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Jane Harmon’s 25-Year Journey as a Principal

Featured Profile graphic with Jane Harmon, Mountain View High School principal
Jane Harmon, with her bike, stands next to a Loveland Heart sculpture

It’s been 25 years since Jane Harmon got her first job as a principal. The past six of those years were spent at Mountain View High School. Now that she can count the weeks to retirement, she will tell you it’s all a blur. That’s not the whole story. The truth is, Jane can recount many of her experiences in detail, from starting out as a 27-year-old principal in a small school in White River, South Dakota, to her first days as a principal at Mountain View, where she was in awe of how engaged the students and staff were with their new leader.

“The staff at Mountain View functions in such a manner that it feels like your home,” she says. “They want to work together. Even in the biggest struggles we’ve faced … this staff sticks together in a way that is supportive and collegial. Even when we disagree, we can still be respectful. We can decide on a path and move forward. I believe the students see that and they become part of that.”

As a child growing up in a small town in South Dakota, Jane always believed she would be a teacher. Working as a library aide in high school and having strong role models shaped her goals even further.

“I had great influences of teachers in my town who were phenomenal and made me feel special and valued,” she says. “My mom was not a teacher, but she was one of those special people who could help you learn a lesson out of everything that happened around you.”

The Impact of Supportive Family and Mentors on Jane Harmon

Jane Harmon with her mother and daughter

Jane’s mother was also there to guide her when Jane found herself facing single motherhood just after graduating from high school. Jane recalls feeling like she had ruined her life. She couldn’t imagine how she could go off to college and raise a baby on her own. But her mom had a different perspective.

“My mom told me ‘This changes nothing,’” Jane says, reflecting on how she went off to college at Southwest Minnesota State University carrying a baby as a freshman. She took one trimester off to have her daughter. Then, she headed back to school to pursue the career she had dreamed of.

“I had to keep trucking, and that was my life, raising a child and making sure I provided for her in a way she deserved,” she recalls. Jane says she had immeasurable support from her parents and siblings, all of whom helped her realize she could still get her degree.

“I owe my parents such a debt of gratitude for helping me see that my mistake was not something that couldn’t be overcome. It was life-changing, but it didn’t have to be in terms of my goals.”

Jane says that her experiences as a young mother and college student have given her a lot of insight. They have shaped how she approaches her role as a principal.

“Because it was such a failure to me in my own mind, I haven’t often shared that I was a young parent,” Jane says. “But I think the lens it has given me is that we can make mistakes, but what’s most important is that we surround ourselves with people who genuinely care for our well-being, and that we need to be that kind of support for students. We need to build that relationship of care and consideration for the difficult things that people are going through.”

Looking Back on a Fulfilling Career

Mountain View High School class of 2023 in graduation gowns with Jane Harmon in front

As this school year comes to a close, Jane is reflecting on the highlights of her 25-year career as a principal, including a highly successful Freshman Academy and Freshman Seminar program at MVHS. She also is proud of the fact that, after doing the math, she calculates there are roughly 4000 diplomas with her signature on them out in the world.

“It’s a funny thing to think about, that you’ve touched that many people’s journeys,” she says. “The rewards are in the individual students’ successes as they went out into the world and influenced others. I don’t think of one spectacular reward, it’s in the many little successes, lots of individual lives you are able to touch every day.”

Jane says that of all the memories she cherishes about her years in education, she will miss the people the most. This fall, Jane and her husband will move to Arkansas to be closer to her daughter’s family, and the three young grandchildren Jane adores. And though she will miss Colorado and her beloved school, Jane says she believes she has made a difference. She removes a plaque from her desk that was a gift from a co-worker and reads:

“A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have, but how many leaders you create.”


“Hopefully that’s what it’s all been about,” Jane says.