The Best Principal In America: Erie says goodbye to Matthew Buchler


Courtney Stanesa

Matthew Buchler and Alumni David Unruh

Jozlyn Jorgenson, Co-Editor In Chief

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, Erie High will not only be saying goodbye to its class of seniors, but also to its beloved principal, Matthew Buchler.


Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1967, Buchler moved with his family to Boulder at a young age. He went to the schools in the district. “It was a spontaneous decision,” Buchler says, “[My parents] heard Boulder, Colorado was a cool place, kinda exciting.”


That decision affected the course of his life. “I was very thankful because growing up in Boulder is a great place… I got [an] excellent education, excellent teachers.” Buchler says. 


A lot of what makes Buchler who he is was influenced by his school, teachers, and sport. He says that one of the things that inspired him to be involved in education was, “When I was in highschool I had two superb teachers. I was not a good student in high school, and one of my teachers… held me to really high standards,” Buchler explains that, “I felt valued by that… he taught me to have high expectations academically… [He and his wife] inspired me to become a teacher and get into education.”


But that is not all. As Buchler said, he was not a good student, but that changed not only because of his teachers, but because of wrestling. He says, “Wrestling was the vehicle through which I learned how to work hard.” That has stayed with him the rest of his life, he says, “If I work hard, then I can outwork people. I might not always be the smartest person, or the most creative or talented, but I can work hard. I felt like I could out work people, and that would be my one advantage.”


He continued wrestling into college, where he studied to be a teacher, and even after. He coached for a while, before eventually stopping. Since then he has worked at many different schools over the past 27 years.


Though he may not be wrestling as much anymore, he still holds a place for it in his life. Even these past few years, Buchler could sometimes be found in the wrestling lying room, working with some of the athletes. “I’ll still try to go into the wrestling room a couple times a year here… I’ll tell them ‘guys, don’t hurt me. If I scream you have to let go quickly.’”


According to Buchler, “Erie’s been a dream job. The kids here are amazing, and our teachers and parents. I always felt like there was a lot of positive energy.”


During his career at Erie, a lot has changed. Going from a school of only a few hundred students, to having a population of well over 1500. Throughout all of this, Buchler has affected Erie in many ways. In fact, when people think of Erie High School, it would be hard for them to not also think of its principal. Reilly Jackson, a senior and student body Vice President, says, “Mr. Buchler is intertwined with the school community on a level that surpasses what a typical principal achieves.” She adds that, “ Everyone knows Mr. Buchler and his spirit for the school… and the student body truly loves him.” The passion Buchler has for this school is well known, and a big part of who he is as a person. Elizabeth Russell, the assistant principal, says that, “…[he] is very high energy. He loves to have a good time. He loves to help the office feel energized every day.” She adds that, “I think he sees his job as a leader of the school as being a cheerleader… and somebody who gets people excited to come to Erie High School.”


“You guys are the best kids in America.” – Matthew Buchler


Since Buchler is so passionate about connecting with his students, and bringing energy to school, Jackson says, “The connection the student body has with Mr. Buchler strengthens the school community as a whole, creating a tight-knit atmosphere that is relatively unique.” 


But, because of the recent pandemic, that community has been hard to maintain. Jackson says, “I don’t think a ton of students understand the immense amount of work he puts into the school… Last year, he struggled with finding ways to keep our school community alive.” She describes that, “He genuinely wanted the school to maintain our strong bond, and when we lost it last year, it hit him hard.”


During that time, Buchler made sure to find ways of helping students with their academics and mental health. His wife is a mental health nurse practitioner, and that has given him an extra way of understanding what to do. Buchler says, “[My wife and I] do talk a lot about mental health. With COVID-19 it was a time for principals to be really sensitive to kid’s [mental health].” He has since applied different methods they talked about while helping students. 


Buchler’s support throughout the year has not just been limited to the students, however. He also works with, and encourages, his staff to be the best they can be. Russell says, “When I came here as a teacher, I had my admin license, but I was okay not using it for a little bit… and [Buchler] really encouraged me to use my admin license.” For her, that was very important, “His belief in me, and seeing that I had those leadership qualities… helped me see those leadership qualities in myself as well.” 


However, Buchler’s time at Erie, as its principal, has come to an end. For him, “It’s hard to leave Erie, because I love Erie. I feel like I have been able to be a part of something bigger than myself.” He is stepping down this year because he believes, “There’s a season for everything… new leadership is healthy.” He adds that, “The time is right, and personally I’m excited to do some new things.” For many, his departure is a bittersweet thing. Jackson says, “As a senior, I was so lucky to have all four years with Mr. Buchler. The Erie community is losing a wonderful principal,” But, as Russell adds, “…I know that he feels that his season here at Erie High School has been a great one, and it’s time for him to move on to another season, and I support him in that decision.”


Almost everyday for the past 8 years, students have heard Buchler tell them they are ‘the best kids in America’. His energy and passion for educating and helping students has left a big impact on the Erie community. As he leaves for the next part of his life, he would like the students to know, “I love them very much. I’m thankful for having been a part of something bigger than myself; which is Erie high and our Erie community. Our kids are amazing, our families are.”Cou