558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Meet the candidates
Three finalists for the Crook County High School principal position face public forums with the community, and from the student body at CCHS.
February 14, 2013
In the search for a replacement for Crook County High School Principal Rocky Miner, the school board has narrowed the field of candidates to three finalists.
Public meetings for community input took place on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings in the Crook County High School library. Students were also given a chance to interview each candidate during school hours. Students and community members had to attend all three sessions in order to have their input included in the final interview committee review, which will be held Feb. 19. The committee will meet on that day to make a recommendation for the final candidate to the superintendent and school board. The final decision will be announced at the Feb. 25 school
board meeting, and the school board will vote on the decision at that time.
The finalists are Rise’ Hawley, the current interim Principal of East Jackson Comprehensive High School, in Jefferson, Ga.; Mark Hebert, the current principal and charter representative in a Career-Technical medical arts magnet school in West Phoenix, Ariz.; and Michelle Jonas, the current vice principal of Crook County High School for the last four years.
Miner, who is retiring after 36 years in education, came to CCHS four years ago when the building had lost 13.5 positions due to budget cuts. Miner was the principal at Crook County Middle School prior to coming to CCHS, and he worked with current CCMS Principal Stacy Smith for nine years. He commented that coming to the high school afforded him the opportunity to also bring continuity in the systems and programs between the two schools.
In addition, Miner also has been the principal for the class of 2013 since they came out of elementary school.
“I have been their principal for the past seven years,” pointed out Miner. “I was their principal, starting in sixth grade. They were actually one of my deciding factors of coming to the high school when I had the high school position offered to me.”
He added that issues and learning objectives such as Achievement Compacts, Common Core Standards, Senate Bill 290 (change in evaluation of teachers), and the advent of charter schools and virtual schools presents a challenge for any school administrator.
“The new principal is going to have to be aware of a number of new policies and programs coming from the state and federal government,” added Miner. “In my career, I have never seen so many changes happening in public education all at one time. There’s just going to be a lot on a new principals’ plate to balance and move forward.”
Jonas came to the Crook County School District from Eugene, Ore. nine years ago, where she previously taught middle school math. She was originally hired as a sixth-grade math instructor at Crook County Middle School. She served in that position for two years, and then moved up to eighth grade math for two years. She was the dean of students for one year at CCMS before coming to the Crook County High School to serve as the vice-principal under Rocky Miner.
Like Miner, Jonas has been with the upcoming graduating class of 2013 since their sixth-grade year at the middle school.
“I know the staff and students, and Rocky and I have the same philosophies and I want to continue the strong programs that we have developed here,” she emphasized.
Jonas added that she would really like to keep the momentum going regarding the progress that they have made and take it to the next level. She has been involved to a large extent on several committees, including those for the Achievement Compacts, Senate Bill 290 (teacher evaluations), and the Teacher Incentive Fund project. She commented that being part of a smaller school district has the advantage of allowing her to be heavily involved in the many changes that are currently happening in education.
“I know the systems that we have established here,” she said.
Jonas also believes in shared leadership. She believes that a principal needs to be surrounded by experienced benchmark coordinators, and a leadership team within the district to work together to ensure that everything gets done. She also believes in professional learning communities, where teachers team together to discuss student achievement and align curriculum.
“I don’t think any one person can do this job, you have to be surrounded by a strong team, and I really think that is important.”
As a vice-principal, she has had an open-door policy for parents, students, and staff.
“I feel I am approachable and I know this community.”
She said that the articulation, or seamless transition for students from kindergarten through 12th grade between schools, is also important.
“Rocky and I, Stacy (Smith), and Kurt (Sloper) work really closely together, and I really see the importance of those teachers meeting together so they know (the students) as sixth graders, and what do they need by the time they are seniors?”
Jonas also believes in increasing academic rigor, and believes students will rise to high expectations. She thinks that CCHS should continue to add Advanced Placement (AP) classes and college-credit classes, as well as providing remediation classes. She noted that career and technical education (CTE) is one of her passions, and she worked hard in partnership with Regional CTE Coordinator for High Desert Education District Ray Hasart to establish new CTE programs and add onto other existing CTE programs.
“Not every kid is the same, and not everyone is taking the same path, and it’s nice to have those career classes.”
Hebert has been in private education for the past 13 years, working with at-risk adolescents in a charter school in Phoenix, Ariz.
“I love working with them and I love the challenges,” he commented at Tuesday evening’s community forum.
He also spent more than 13 years between seminary and serving as a minister.
“I have always been a teacher,” he exclaimed of his past experience. “It’s hard to be a teacher, and it’s the best thing you can do with your life. It’s about making a difference and transformation (in lives).”
Hebert doesn’t feel that his experience in private versus public education is a deterrent.
“I have gotten a taste for everything,” he said of his past experience in education. “I have had to do everything. I have had my hand in every aspect of school life.”
He was impressed that the students from CCHS were part of the interview process for the finalist candidates.
“It says something when you are accountable to students.” he said. “It is a beautiful thing to empower them, and it is important to meet with parents and the kids.”
Some of his main objectives as a new principal would include communication with parents, while utilizing technology and different mediums. He believes that a school has to have a process in place to make sure parents get information as quickly as possible.
Also stressing that the voice of authority in any school has to be the vision of the people, Hebert believes that kids have to be part of the vision and process.
“If you hire me, I won’t come in and impose my principalship on the school, he added.”
Hebert doesn’t believe that there is a silver bullet that creates excellence, but teachers and leaders have to model and expect excellence. He loves to watch his students grow and celebrate their accomplishments.
“I tell them that I am there to help them graduate,” he noted.
When asked about policies like tobacco use and other rules, he responded that he believes in going by the book, and enforcing the rules. He elaborated that his teachers think of him as “real,” and when they have problems they are not afraid of him, and he supports his teachers in respect to discipline.
“I respect what happens in the classroom,” he said.
He said that in the current economic and political climate, many teachers get bad-mouthed for things they are not responsible for, and people lose sight of the fact of how important teachers are, and what an impact they have.
“They strengthen them and make other people better — that is the goal,” said Hebert. “For me there is nothing a person can do that is better than that with their life.”
Rawley, who lives and works in Georgia, has been in education for almost 34 years. She worked as a classroom instructor for 20 years, and for the past 14 years, she has been in leadership positions in education. She is the current interim Principal of East Jackson Comprehensive High School, in Jefferson, Ga., which has a student enrollment of approximately 950.
Hawley was born in La Grande, Ore., and has taught in North Powder, Ore. and Grants Pass, Ore. She has been in Georgia since 1996, although she has been back and forth between Oregon and Georgia a couple of times.
“The last couple of years, my husband and I have been wanting to return to Oregon, because I am an Oregonian and was born in Oregon,” said Rawley.
She commented that the economic situation that schools find themselves in is a big challenge everywhere. The changes in Common Core Standards, Annual Yearly Progress, and changes in teacher evaluations are also challenges she foresees in the near future.
Candidates questioned by a student panel
For the first time, students were given the opportunity to conduct their own question and answer forum for a high school principal position. A panel of four seniors crafted questions ahead of time, which was asked consistently of all the final candidates for the position. Other students were also given an opportunity to come and ask questions as well.
The panel consisted of Hayley Hayden, Tiffany Puckett, Chris Bush, and Jade Anderson. They foursome all agreed that they liked the process of asking the candidates about issues that were relevant to them. They felt like they had input and an opportunity to ask questions about what was important to the student body.
The questions asked of the students for each candidate showed a great deal of forethought and reflection of their concerns and values. Bush commented that he thought that the new principal would have a challenge teaching the students pride and respect for their school.
They all agreed that it would be a hard transition for any person who is taking over the position of principal, especially to replace Miner, who has been their friend and administrator since they were in sixth grade (the senior class).
During each forum, the students asked each candidate about their background, their interests and hobbies outside of school, and why they were applying for the position. They also asked each candidate about challenges they perceive facing the upcoming school years at CCHS.
The students wanted to know what the candidates’ view and philosophy was on discipline, their priorities on electives and extra-curricular activities, and how they would prevent any more students from going to Redmond Proficiency Academy or other schools.
“We would recommend this in the future,” said the panel of the interview format.
“There’s a lot happening in education right now. That is pretty much across the nation. Education is rapidly changing — so there are challenges in that piece as well.”
She believes it is educators’ responsibility to make sure that when students graduate, every opportunity is available for them, so they can be prepared for college or careers.
“We need to prepare them to be lifelong learners, because they are going to need to be able to relearn as the jobs change pretty rapidly — I would assume in the next few years like they have in the past few.”
Rawley noted that vertical alignment of content areas and programs in kindergarten through graduation is very important, and that educators need to pay special attention to the transitions from eighth grade to ninth grade.
She indicated that the community and school system she is in right now has more similarities than differences with Prineville and CCSD.
“I enjoyed the experience to come up and talk to the different groups at the high school. It seems like it is a very community-oriented and family-based community, and I like that.”