558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Search for middle school principal winds up this week
Final decision should be made at the March 18 school board meeting
March 04, 2013
After the interview process finishes up for the Crook County High School principal, so follows the process once again for the Crook County Middle School.
Student and community interviews began on Thursday, Feb. 28. Shane Pratt, a candidate from West Park Elementary in Hermiston, Ore., withdrew his candidacy last week, and Kurt Sloper was the first to greet the public and answer questions at Thursday’s forum. Rise’ Hawley of Georgia was available for a meet and greet Monday evening at the middle school library. Community members and staff were encouraged to attend, and provide the School Board with feedback about the candidates.
The successful candidate will pick up the reins from current CCMS Principal Stacy Smith, who was selected as the new CCSD Curriculum Director at a school board meeting on Oct. 15, 2012. He replaces Dennis Kostelecky, who begins his full-time position as head of schools for Insight Charter School in July 2013.
Smith has been at CCMS as a teacher, assistant principal, or principal for 18 years. He has been an administrator for 14 years at CCMS. It is his fourth year as a principal at the school. Smith commented last week that there will be some big challenges ahead for all educators in the next couple of years, especially at the administrative level.
“We have the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, and the implementation of Senate Bill 290 and other school reform issues such as tying teacher evaluation to student performance,” said Smith. “I have been told that students who are currently deemed proficient by our current standards and assessment will be as much as three years below proficient using the new standards.”
As current high school principal Rocky Miner noted upon his announcement to retire, there are substantial changes happening in education all at the same time. Smith agreed wholeheartedly with this information.
“There are complicated issues that require level heads and an attitude of accomplishment and problem-solving to get our kids where they need to be,” added Smith. “The work will be challenging, but in a sense, it is also an exciting time to be in education.”
Sloper is not a stranger to change. He has been a part of the process of developing the district’s Achievement Compact, developing and implementing the new teacher evaluation model, supporting staff with the alignment of Common Core State Standard (CCSS,) preparing students for new graduation requirements, and preparing for SB 290.
“How these district and statewide changes affect our school is extremely significant,” explained Sloper. “I have spent the last three years working with school and district colleagues to prepare for these changes.”
Next year will be Sloper’s 10th year in education. He taught at Cecil Sly Elementary School at the fifth-grade level for one year and fourth-grade one year, four years at the sixth-grade level at Powell Butte Elementary (before it was a charter school), has been the vice-principal at CCMS since 2010, and Paulina Elementary principal since 2011. While teaching, he was also the CCHS girls basketball coach for five years.
Sloper has also served as a CCSD Teacher Evaluation Administrator for CCMS, been a Google Chrome team member, a Care Team member, and part of the Community Resource Team and Student Evaluation Team. He has served in many other capacities in an administrative role for the district as well.
He grew up in Crook County, and returned to raise his own family and start his career here. Sloper believes this shows that he is committed to the community.
“I understand the uniqueness of our community and the variety of backgrounds that our students come from. I have been a part of developing the systems at CCMS that have made it successful and can make this administrative turnover process extremely seamless.”
Sloper indicated that he has a passion for serving students, families, and staff in Crook County.
“I want to continue to be a part of the improvement and the work that has gone into making this one of the best middle schools in the region and state,” he said. “Crook County is a unique place, and our students come from a variety of backgrounds. I know our community, kids, staff, and school want to continue my service to them.”
He feels his strengths involve creating and maintaining effective systems and processes within the school, as well as establishing positive relationships with students, staff, and families.
Hawley is the current interim principal of East Jackson Comprehensive High School, in Jefferson, Ga., which has a student enrollment of approximately 950. She also competed for the Crook County High School principal candidacy earlier in February.
She 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.
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 wanted to return to Oregon, because I am an Oregonian and was born in Oregon,” said Hawley.
She commented that the economic situation that schools find themselves in is a big challenge — not just Oregon, but everywhere. The changes in Common Core Standards, Annual Yearly Progress, and changes in teacher evaluations are also challenges she foresees in the near future.
“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,” commented Hawley.
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.”
Hawley noted that vertical alignment of content areas and programs in kindergarten through graduation is very important.
She indicated that the community and school system she is in right now has more similarities than differences with Prineville and CCSD.
The interview committee will review the applicants’ qualifications and take into consideration the community’s comments, and make recommendations by the March 18 school board meeting. The Crook County School Board will take action on the selection of both positions during the meeting.