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Meet your new principal

In July, Oregon Trail School District announced its latest administrative changes for the 2011-12 school year.

Tim Werner has transitioned to Sandy High School principal.

Courtney Murphy has transitioned to Boring Middle School principal.

And Joan Knowlton has transitioned to Firwood Elementary School principal.

The Post caught up with these administrators to ask what brought them to the district, what goals they have for the coming school year and about their activities after they go home from school.

Tim Werner

Sandy High School Principal Tim Werner began with the district in 1998, teaching social studies at the high school. He most recently served as Boring Middle School's principal.

'He's an amazing leader and very process-oriented,' said Courtney Murphy, who is filling Werner's position at the middle school. 'I really enjoyed working under him and learning from him.'

Werner is a familiar face to the high school and he most looks forward to reconnecting with students and staff.

• What brought you to Oregon Trail School District?

'I'm from Clackamas. I had my first teaching job in Sweet Home, Ore. A position opened up in Sandy, and I wanted get back up in the area.'

• What's the biggest challenge you face this year?

'Budgets have been cut every year. It's nothing surprising. It's just one of those realities with the state of the economy.'

• What are your goals for the year?

'To continue to focus on teaching and learning at the high school and ensure students are getting the best education possible.'

• What's your educational background?

'I graduated from Clackamas High School. I did my undergrad at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. in history education. I have my master's in curriculum and instruction from Portland State University and an administrative license from Lewis and Clark College.

• What's your favorite book?

' 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' As a sophomore in high school I had to dress up as a character and I did Atticus Finch.'

• What's you greatest accomplishment?

'Becoming an administrator in the district. To me the most important thing in education is teaching and the classroom. It took a lot for me to be taken away from the classroom, but this way I get to help teachers affecting all students rather than just affecting my students.'

• What are your hobbies?

'Spending time with family. Carrie, my wife, was a Sandy High School graduate. Ella just turned 1.'

• What's your greatest passion?

'Education. In these roles, if you're not passionate about what you do, you won't last very long. It's all consuming. My wife is a counselor at Mill Park Elementary School and my father was a fifth-grade teacher for many years. Education is in the family.'

• What's a fun fact about you?

'I met my wife at the Sandy Starbucks. The former manager set us up. I always tell people the amount of money I spend at Starbucks paid off.'

• What fuels your passion for education?

'We are really preparing our students to be citizens of our country and the world. You can't have a functioning democracy without an educated citizenry. That's the goal of education.'

Courtney Murphy

Coming to the district as a high school athletic director, Courtney Murphy didn't realize she would 'fall in love with middle school.'

'I thought high school was my end all,' she said.

Murphy initially dealt with discipline and climate at Boring Middle School as vice principal and said the position fit well. She calls Boring a wonderful place with supportive parents and involved families.

• What brought you here?

'My first job out of the gate was at West Albany High School. I left because my family was moving up to the Portland area. I've lived in East County ever since.'

• What's your educational background?

'My bachelor's is from Western Oregon University in secondary education. My master's in education is from Oregon State University, and my administrative license is from the University of Oregon.'

• Tell us about your family.

'I grew up in Sweet Home, Ore. My parents were very hardworking people with a strong moral background. School was very important to my parents. My son Cole is eight and a half. He's flexible, easy-going, thoughtful and kind.'

• What are your hobbies?

'I love anything with water, being active, being able to be outside.'

• What's your favorite book?

'I have an author more than a book -- Janet Evanovich.'

• Where do you get your inspiration?

'Everyday something different inspires me. Right now it's, 'Success is not failure, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.' (Winston Churchill).'

• What did you think you'd be when you grew up?

'An attorney. I wanted to influence others and thought law was my way of doing that. There weren't many female administrators when I was young. Many principals were older men. I didn't realize it was a possibility.'

Joan Knowlton

Firwood Elementary principal Joan Knowlton arrived in the district more than three years ago as a literacy coach for the district. She moved from Lake Oswego to Zigzag. Along with her new role as principal, Knowlton is an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark College.

• What's your educational background?

'I did my undergrad at Framingham State University in elementary education with a K-9 certification. I did my advanced degree at Lewis and Clark College as a master's of arts in teaching with a reading and literacy focus.'

• What's your favorite book?

' 'Spinster.' It's about developing relationships and working closely with students.'

• What are your hobbies?

'My husband and I love to hike, ski and white water raft up in the Mount Hood area. We've made incredible discoveries.'

• Tell us about your family.

'Two daughters -- Emily is 29 and Aubin is 26 -- a stepson, J.T., and husband Jerry Knowlton. They are all energetic, high achieving and well-rounded people.'

• What's the best part of the Sandy area?

'Fresh, crisp and clean air. The people here believe in what is going on inside the community, and work to make this a better place.'

• What's your proudest accomplishment?

'Touching the need for reading for an individual, troubled high school student. He was a high school sophomore at Sandy High School who couldn't read. By the end of the school year he said, 'Ms. Knowlton, I love reading.' Now he reads all the time.'

• What's your greatest passion?

'Reading, and being able to help others unlock the secrets of reading.'