At the helm: Principals prepare for new school year

August 2018 Posted in School

Kennedy High principal Dale Pedersen.


Silverton High principal Wade Lockett.


Mt. Angel Middle School principal Jared Tiecke.

By James Day

School was out for the summer, the parking lot was empty, but Silverton High Principal Wade Lockett was in his office, wrapping up the hiring that always takes place when you transition from one year to the next.

He was wearing a white dress shirt, with the shorts and flip-flops – plus the quiet hallways — the only clues that he was in summer mode.

Otherwise it was full speed ahead for year two of his tenure as principal as he made clear in an interview with Our Town.

“Regardless of experience, regardless of what you know about education and people, challenges will come and even if you expect them sometimes the lack of experience makes you ill prepared,” he said. “You learn a lot. How to deal with situations and communicate carefully. Everyone communicates differently. I like to think I’m friendly, outgoing, open and honest, but you need to make sure you are communicating effectively with every person. But the challenges were there.

“The biggest challenges are related to personnel, putting schedules together, managing the operations of a school. I’ve got unbelievable support staff. That makes all the difference in the world.”

Lockett took over as principal after two years as assistant principal-athletic director. Silver Falls Superintendent Andy Bellando shifted some personnel to ensure Lockett had the backing and mentorship he would need to succeed.

“The support system worked well,” Bellando said. “Assistant Superintendent Dandy Stevens served as Wade’s professional mentor for the year. The first year as a high school principal can be quite challenging and Wade proved that he is up for it. I appreciate his communication efforts, his involvement in the community and his personal connections with students and staff members.

“Students in a large high school are sometimes not even aware who their principal is. That’s not the case with Wade. SHS students know Wade and have a great deal of respect for him.
I am excited for Wade’s second year at the helm.”

Lockett said he was particularly proud of this year’s freshman class, with 333 of the 340 students on track to graduate.

“That’s remarkable,” Lockett said. “Success during the freshman year has a strong correlation to success throughout their entire career. And that’s a hard transition. A lot of these kids have gone to the same school for eight years. And those are small schools. We have 1,300 students, and it looks and feels different.

“I love the fact that our staff works to get to know these kids and their families and gets them involved. That makes this school very unique. It’s a big school with a small-town approach. That’s why you see a lot of success here.

“We’re helping guide kids at a very formative time in their lives and it’s fun. There are not that many occupations in life where you get involved like this. We are guiding, we are interacting, we are a part of fun experiences for kids. That’s pretty unique.”

Bellando noted that there will be just one principal-level change in the Silver Falls district this fall. Kevin Palmer, who served this past year as co-athletic director and human resources administrator, will move back to the principal slot at Butte Creek. Therese Gerlits, who ran Butte Creek last year, is taking a leave
of absence.

Meanwhile, the Mt. Angel School District will be welcoming a pair of new principals. Dale Pedersen takes over at the high school for Sean Aker, and Jared Tiecke is the new middle school principal. Tiecke replaces Jennifer McCallum, who left after five years in the post because
of the challenge of her commute
from Vancouver.

Pedersen comes from McKay High School in the Salem-Keizer School District, where he has served as an assistant principal, behavioral specialist and secondary math teacher.

He was selected from a pool of 19 applicants, said Superintendent Troy Stoops. Because of recent turnover in the post, the district used a different screening process, involving teachers, students and parents.

“The process was the most comprehensive process we have been through for hiring a principal,” said Stoops, a former Kennedy principal. “Each candidate went through three 45-minute interviews, a student-led tour and a writing activity. Two of the interview panels included parents, teachers and administrators. The third committee was entirely high school students. The students leading the tours also provided feedback. Mr. Pedersen rose to the top in all five areas of the process. Twenty students, 14 staff and five parents were directly involved.

“The role of the high school principal is an extremely challenging leadership position. Principals in small rural high schools wear a lot of hats and have hands-on responsibilities that encompass all areas of leading and managing a comprehensive high school. We selected Mr. Pedersen because he is ready for the challenge, he is prepared professionally and truly wants to be in our community at Kennedy High School.”

Pedersen’s first official day on the job will be Aug. 1, although he participated in listening sessions with school staff before the end of the school year in June.

Tiecke also comes from the Salem-Keizer district, where he has been a behavioral specialist and Instructional Mentor at Brush College Elementary School this past year. Prior to Brush College, Tiecke was at Houck Middle School where he taught math, was an instructional coach and held multiple leadership roles. He also is an adjunct faculty member at Chemeketa Community College where he has taught accounting and business classes since 2012.

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