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Schools Welcome New Principals for 2019–20

New leaders selected to replace outgoing administrators

Several 4J schools and departments will have new leadership in 2019–20.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLSKaren Ramirez Gutierrez, River Road/El Camino del Río principal • Sheila Minney, Willagillespie principal • Kevin Gordon, Camas Ridge principal • Teresa Martindale, Adams, principal

MIDDLE SCHOOLS—Sun Saeteurn, Monroe principal • Chris Benz, Kennedy assistant principal • Tracy Ross, Spencer Butte assistant principal • Erin Gaston, Madison assistant principal

HIGH SCHOOL—Paula Nolan, ECCO / Alternative Education Administrator • Mike Ingman, Sheldon principal • Heather Stein, Sheldon assistant principal/athletic director • Wes Flinn, Sheldon assistant principal • Joel Lavin, South Eugene assistant principal • Garrett Bridgens, South Eugene assistant principal

DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION—Kyle Tucker, Chief Operations Officer • Jeff Johnson
, Director of PreK–8 Education • Kat Lange
, Director of Student Services • Joyce Smith-Johnson, Student Services Administrator • Leila Schuck, Fox Hollow Campus Administrator • David Jacobson, Federal Program Administrator • Tia Holliday Odegard, Curriculum Administrator for College & Career Readiness and Career & Technical Education • Karen Hardin, Director of Human Resources

Elementary Schools

River Road/El Camino del Río Principal: Karen Ramirez Gutierrez
Karen Ramirez Gutierrez will be principal of River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary School next year, replacing Joel Lavin who is moving to the high school level. Ms. Ramirez, a skilled and experienced bilingual/bicultural educator, is excited to return to Camino del Río and to dual immersion. Ms. Ramirez has served as assistant principal of Kennedy Middle School and as a summer school administrator in 4J. Before becoming a school administrator, she previously taught at Camino del Río and Buena Vista Spanish immersion elementary schools in Eugene, and as a bilingual teacher at a school near Salem where about 50% of students were English language learners. More recently she served as essential skills coordinator and bilingual coach at Camino del Río. She is committed to nurturing and developing bilingual, biliterate and bicultural instruction and supporting student and family success.

Willagillespie Principal: Sheila Minney
Sheila Minney is the new principal of Willagillespie Elementary School, replacing David Jacobson who has been selected to be our new Federal Programs Administrator. Ms. Minney is a seasoned school administrator with more than 20 years as an educator including 15 years in principal and assistant principal roles. Most recently, she served as principal of Maple Elementary School in Springfield. At Maple, she developed and maintained a consistent track record of achieving schoolwide and individual goals, such as successful practices for multi-tiered systems of support in academics and behavior. Ms. Minney brings a solid foundation of experience, leadership skills and professional integrity.

Camas Ridge Principal: Kevin Gordon
Kevin Gordon will be principal of Camas Ridge Elementary School, replacing Wes Flinn who is moving to Sheldon High School. Mr. Gordon has extensive experience as a principal and as an educator in the South Eugene region. He has been principal of Adams Elementary School for the past five years, and previously taught at Parker Elementary School for a decade until it closed. A strong instructional leader, Mr. Gordon believes in establishing and maintaining a high degree of relational trust with staff. He is excited to help the Camas Ridge community navigate to its new school building in the coming years.

Adams Principal: Teresa Martindale 
Teresa Martindale will be principal of Adams Elementary School, replacing Kevin Gordon who is moving to Camas Ridge Elementary School. Ms. Martindale has previously served as a K–8 principal and middle and high school assistant principal in the South Lane School District, and has been with 4J as the assistant principal at Madison Middle School since 2014. She holds her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon and was 4J’s ACE Awards Administrator Champion in 2018. As the first in a large family to attend college, Ms. Martindale has a unique lens on the power of education, and on the value of holding high expectations and providing the supports necessary for all students to succeed.

Middle Schools

Monroe School Principal: Sun Saeteurn
Sun Saeteurn will be principal of Monroe Middle School, replacing Mike Johnson, who has been named superintendent of the Creswell School District. He is coming to us from the Springfield School District, where he has served as assistant principal at Thurston High School for the past several years. Mr. Saeteurn is a passionate educator with more than a decade of experience in school administration and the classroom. He brings diverse experiences, strong instructional leadership, and the ability and commitment to build relationships with students, staff, families and communities.

Kennedy Middle School Assistant Principal: Chris Benz
Chris Benz is a new administrator but not new to 4J. Mr. Benz has been teaching language arts at ECCO and gaining administrative practicum experience at ECCO and Camas Ridge Elementary School. Before joining 4J, he taught in Stockton, California. Chris believes in promoting a community culture of support, congeniality and acceptance that ensures students develop personal, academic, and social and emotional skills needed to navigate life. He is committed to improving systems to yield equitable outcomes and meet students’ varying needs. Mr. Benz replaces Karen Ramirez Gutierrez, who will be principal at River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary School next year.

Spencer Butte Middle School Assistant Principal: Tracy Ross
Tracy Ross will be the assistant principal at Spencer Butte Middle School next school year, replacing George Gillett whose family is moving out-of-state. Ms. Ross has close to a quarter century of education experience. She has served as assistant principal at Sheldon High School since 2017 and previously at North Eugene High School for three years. Before becoming a school administrator, she taught music for many years and also served as an essential skills coordinator, high school instructional coach, and districtwide lead teacher on special assignment (TOSA) for music.

Madison Middle School Assistant Principal: Erin Gaston
Erin Gaston has been an educator for nearly 20 years, with more than a decade of experience in 4J. She started in the district as a classroom teacher at Gilham Elementary School in 2006, then moved to River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and essential skills coordinator, and then to Howard Elementary as a classroom and Title I teacher. In addition, Ms. Gaston has served in a district TOSA role and as the administrator for 4J’s Title I summer school program. With a guiding principle of doing what is in the best interest of students, she is committed to improving school-wide systems and having a positive impact.

High Schools

ECCO / Alternative Education Administrator: Paula Nolan
Paula Nolan will be 4J’s new Alternative Education Administrator in 2019–20, overseeing the ECCO alternative high school program and other Eugene Education Options programs. Ms. Nolan is replacing Molly Gillett, who will head to Arizona this summer with her family to become the principal of a preK–8 school. Ms. Nolan has served as the principal and assistant principal of Redmond High School, where she oversaw Redmond’s alternative education and high school credit recovery programs. She has also taught at the high school and middle school level in Pendleton. Ms. Nolan is enthusiastic about joining the Eugene school community and furthering the development of 4J’s alternative education options. 

Sheldon High School Principal: Mike Ingman
Mike Ingman will be principal of Sheldon High School next year, replacing Bob Bolden who is moving to a district administration position at the 4J Education Center after 17 years at Sheldon. Mr. Ingman has extensive experience as a high school educator, including time as a high school social studies and alt ed teacher and football coach before becoming a school administrator. He is currently principal of Cottage Grove High School south of Eugene, and previously served as principal of Al Kennedy Alternative High School in Cottage Grove and of Albany Options School to the north. He also has served as an assistant principal at South Albany High School and dean of students at Cottage Grove High School. While Mr. Ingman has worked in other districts, Eugene School District 4J is his home—where he grew up, attended school and raised his family. He is excited to return home to 4J. 

Sheldon High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director: Heather Stein
Heather Stein will step into a new role, for both her and the district, as an assistant principal also serving as the school’s athletic director. This AP/AD role replaces Sheldon’s longtime athletic director Matt Binkerd, who is moving to Indiana. Ms. Stein has worked with athletics and activities from all angles—as an administrator, a coach, a parent, and as a multi-sport student athlete in her own high school years. She has been an assistant principal at South Eugene High School since 2016, and previously worked in 4J as a regional essential skills coordinator and as an assistant principal and administrative intern at Spencer Butte and Adams. She was a music educator in other districts in Oregon and Washington for 20 years before seeking administrative licensure. Ms. Stein will bring her strong leadership abilities, interpersonal skills, and athletics and activities experience to this new adventure.

Sheldon High School Assistant Principal: Wes Flinn
Wes Flinn will move to the high school level as an assistant principal at Sheldon High School. Mr. Flinn is an experienced administrator who has led Camas Ridge Community Elementary School for the past three years and previously was the assistant principal and then principal of Kelly Middle School. He works to ensure the fair treatment of all students and recognizes the importance of engaging staff. Mr. Flinn looks forward to returning to the secondary level and working in a team administrator setting with new principal Mike Ingman and fellow assistant principals Heather Stein and Mark Watson.

South Eugene High School Assistant Principal: Joel Lavin
Joel Lavin will move to South Eugene, to bring his veteran administrator experience to the high school assistant principal role. It was previously announced that Mr. Lavin would be a new assistant princiapl at Sheldon. However, with both of South Eugene’s assistant principals changing roles next year, Mr. Lavin, who is an experienced administrator with deep roots in the South Eugene community, will instead be moving to the assistant principal role at South Eugene. He began his administrative career as assistant principal at Roosevelt Middle School a decade ago, followed by several years as an elementary principal at Awbrey Park and then River Road/El Camino del Río in the North Eugene region. He brings with him a strong equity lens, fluency in Spanish, a focus on high-quality instruction, and a passion to ensure all students and staff are supported for success.

South Eugene High School Assistant Principal: Garrett Bridgens
Garrett Bridgens is a new assistant principal at South Eugene. Mr. Bridgens comes to 4J from the South Lane School District, where he has taught for more than a decade, created and ran the Electronic Media CTE Program of Study at Cottage Grove High School, and coached high school athletics for 17 years. For the past five years, he also has served in an administrative position as the district’s communications coordinator and as a substitute building administrator. Mr. Bridgens brings great creativity, communication skills, passion for student achievement, and ability to connect with staff and students.

Department Directors

Chief Operations Officer: Kyle Tucker
Kyle Tucker has been selected as 4J’s new Chief Operations Officer. Mr. Tucker will will oversee the district’s Facilities, Transportation and Technology Departments, which includes the critical role of managing the bond projects underway and forthcoming over the next several years. Mr. Tucker is coming to us from the South Lane School District, where he has several years of executive administration experience including overseeing school construction and other bond improvement projects. He has served as South Lane’s assistant superintendent since 2013 including as interim superintendent for one year, and before that as director of instruction and student services. He previously spent 10 years as superintendent of the small school district in Mapleton, near the coast. Mr. Tucker has roots in 4J, as a district resident, a 4J parent and a North Eugene High School graduate! He also has broad experience as a teacher, coach, athletic director, dean of students, and elementary and secondary principal, which will inform his work in this role.

Director of PreK–8 Education: Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson will be a Director of PreK–8 Education in 2019–20, serving alongside Brooke Wagner. Mr. Johnson has been an educator in 4J for more than 20 years and has a strong background in elementary and middle school education. He has been a teacher and administrator at both the elementary and secondary level, including serving as principal of Coburg Elementary School and then launching the Arts & Technology Academy and serving as its principal for 10 years. In recent years he has worked with multiple schools in a district-level role as the district’s Federal Programs Administrator. In all of these roles, Mr. Johnson has been committed to changing beliefs about students in historically underserved groups, increasing expectations about what students can achieve, developing systems with a focus on rigorous instruction, and increasing the instructional and leadership capacity of staff.

Director of Student Services: Kat Lange
Kat Lange, currently serving as one of the district’s student services administrators, will transition this summer to Director of Student Services. In her current role, Ms. Lange has been responsible for supporting and guiding special education services at the high school level. She previously worked in Colorado as a special education director, college adjunct professor, principal, assistant principal, and special education teacher. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Colorado State University. Ms. Lange will take over for Cheryl Linder, who is retiring after more than 40 years in special education in 4J, including involvement as a parent, volunteer, educational assistant, substitute teacher, special education teacher, administrator and director. 

Student Services Administrator: Joyce Smith-Johnson
Joyce Smith-Johnson will support special education students, families and staff as a student services administrator next year, moving to the district office after stepping in for a year as the interim administrator of the Fox Hollow Campus. Ms. Smith-Johnson previously served as principal of Holt Elementary School for five years, and before that worked as a special education teacher and a staff development specialist in 4J. She brings to her new role an extensive knowledge and understanding of special education best practices along with her quarter-century of education experience, leadership skills, persistence and tenacity.

Fox H  ollow Campus Administrator: Leila Schuck
Leila Schuck is the new Fox Hollow Campus administrator, replacing interim administrator Joyce Smith-Johnson. Ms. Schuck has extensive experience in special education, both as a teacher and administrator. She has previously served as a 4J special education administrator and has taken on many complex assignments for special education services in the district. Welcome to Fox Hollow Campus, Ms. Schuck.

Federal Program Administrator: David Jacobson
David Jacobson has been named 4J’s new Federal Programs administrator. For the past 5 years, Mr. Jacobson has been principal of Willagillespie Elementary School, a Title I school with 500+ students and a 20% annual mobility rate. He also has broad experience as a middle and high school administrator and teacher in Eugene, Springfield, the Pacific Northwest and Chile. He holds a doctorate in education methodology, policy and leadership from the University of Oregon. Mr. Jacobson is replacing Jeff Johnson, who is moving on to be Director of PreK–8 Education. Mr. Jacobson believes that every student can learn at a high level when we support school culture, structure and instructional practices that join the forces of student vitality and teacher will.

Curriculum Administrator for College & Career Readiness and Career & Technical Education: Tia Holliday Odegard
Tia Holliday Odegard is the new Curriculum Administrator for College & Career Readiness and Career & Technical Education, replacing Kevin Herington, who has been named principal of Cottage Grove High School. Ms. Holliday Odegard is an experienced instructional leader at the secondary level. For the past five years, she has served as an assistant principal of South Eugene High School. She’s been with 4J since 1999, starting as a science teacher and small schools teacher leader at North Eugene High School. Since then she has also served as a high school science department chair, summer bridge coordinator, and student achievement specialist/essential skills coordinator. Ms. Holliday Odegard is committed to creating multiple pathways and supports for student success, so every student is prepared to pursue their dreams after high school graduation.

Director of Human Resources: Karen Hardin
Karen Hardin has been named Director of Human Resources. Her excellent work this past year heading up our Human Resources team will continue in this role in a regular capacity as the department director. Karen’s education career in 4J spans more than 30 years, including as a PE teacher, elementary classroom teacher, middle school assistant principal and elementary principal. She has served in key capacities in Human Resources since 2011, most recently as the associate director. Her deep knowledge of the school district and strong working relationships with school leaders and employee groups will be a great asset in this new leadership role.

Welcome to these education leaders and all others who are beginning or changing positions with 4J next year.

(This article will be updated as additional appointments are announced.)

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