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New leadership team at Sellwood Middle School

by: Rita A. Leonard, Assistant Principal Karl Newsome, left, and Principal Helen Nolen form the new leadership team, as the fall term begins at Sellwood Middle School.

As students return to class this month, Sellwood Middle School has new leadership. Former Principal Frank Scotto has moved on to head the staff at the Metropolitan Learning Center, and Helen Nolen, Principal at Buckman for eight years, has taken the helm at SMS. A new Assistant Principal, Karl Newsome, has also joined the staff. Newsome served as Student Management specialist at Jackson Middle School, and recently earned his administrative credentials at PSU.

Helen Nolen, a graduate of Washington State University and Lewis and Clark College, has worked in the Portland Public Schools for 23 years. She reports herself impressed with the versatility of staff and students at Sellwood Middle School. 'I have a strong personal passion for both the Arts and Technology,' she says. 'I wrote a 3-year, $90,000 Art grant while I was Assistant Principal at Jackson Middle School, and then moved on to Buckman, an Elementary Art focus school. I'm pleased to see the strong arts program here at Sellwood, led by Liz Capps, Dan Arrayan, and Heidi Perry.'

Both Nolen and Newsome tell THE BEE that they appreciate the solid achievements demonstrated by Sellwood students, as well as the School Improvement Program created there this spring. 'Our goals this year focus on curriculum mapping, and aligning that with the Standards,' says Nolen. 'The staff, about 40 strong, is already working well together, and we'll join them for assessment training soon. This year we'll focus on attendance goals, and Ruby Payne ('Understanding Poverty') training. While SMS is an exceptional school, we'll work on how we can plan to assist individual student needs.'

Nolen is a highly qualified administrator, having served the district as Science Coordinator, TAG Coordinator, and TOSA for the Grant/Madison clusters, where she focused on teacher in-service training. Nolen also plans to boost technology and enhance the Internet webpage at SMS. 'I'm bringing in a technology program that involves a portable MAC Lab, along with sound equipment and cameras,' she says. 'Students will be able to design a movie project as part of their curriculum studies.'

Nolen has two grown children who were educated in Portland Public Schools. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, golf, reading, and her miniature schnauzer, 'Scooter'.

Karl Newsome, a tall and imposing presence, displays a ready smile and an instant rapport, fueled by his many interests. 'I've had a lifelong passion for working with kids,' he says. 'I really like their energy and engagement.'

Newsome is a 1982 graduate of Oakwood College in Alabama, with a major in History and a minor in Biology. He taught science classes for about 20 years, and recently earned his administrative credentials at PSU. He was pleasantly surprised to be teamed with Nolen, who he already knew. 'Our paths had crossed before,' he says. 'Helen and I are ready to follow the plan here that has been laid out by our predecessors.'

Newsome's wife also works in PPS; one of his sons is a Portland high school graduate, and another attends Cleveland High School. 'I'm happy to know that Sellwood feeds over to Cleveland,' he says. 'It's a great high school.'

In his spare time, Newsome enjoys music, playing guitar, violin, and sometimes even the trombone. He also likes singing, as well as playing golf. 'I love watching all kinds of sports,' he allows, 'especially football and basketball. I'm also a movie buff, particularly for educational-based movies, like 'Mr. Holland's Opus' and 'To Sir With Love'. They are so inspirational to me.' Above all, Newsome loves reading, and usually has four or five books going at the same time.

This new team of experienced administrators holds much promise for the future of Sellwood Middle School. Nolen and Newsome plan to blend cooperative leadership with the exceptional program already in place. 'We're pleased to support the fabulous staff here, through the established School Improvement Plan,' asserts Nolen.