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Ken Clark named principal at JCMS

by: Submitted Photo - Ken Clark

During administrative reassignments, Ken Clark has been named the principal of Jefferson County Middle School. For the past three years, he has been an assistant principal at Madras High School.
   Effective July 1, Clark moved into the position formerly occupied by Steve Johnson, who has become the new director of auxiliary services for the 509-J School District.
   Johnson will be taking on a portion of the duties which had been given to district principals over the past couple of years as a result of budget cuts.
   Johnson will also assume some of the duties of support services director Bill Cordill, who is retiring, and the departing Ted Viramonte, district grant writer.
   Clark said he is excited about the opportunity the JCMS position presents.
   "It allows me to grow as a principal in an environment most advantageous to me," Clark said.
   He said his vision for the middle school is to create a seamless transition to high school for the students. Clark said he and MHS principal Gary Carlton have talked of such a possibility over the past three years.
   "Gary and I understand each other and work well together. We have similar goals. We've talked about getting (a close transition program) going between the two schools and this is an opportunity to make it happen," Clark said.
   Clark believes that in terms of behavior, education, and environment, students should merely be changing buildings when they move on to the high school. If the expectations of students are the same at both schools, students will be more comfortable going from one school to the other and clearly understand what is expected of them, he said.
   Closer interaction between schools using the same networked district educational plan is unique and a concept whose time has come, Clark feels.
   "This would really make Madras move forward. I haven't really seen this type of thing anywhere else," he said.
   Clark spent the past three years as assistant principal at MHS. Prior to that he served 20 years as a classroom teacher in the automotive program at Lebanon High School.
   As a result, middle school wasn't actually on his radar screen. However, when the position came open, Clark jumped at the chance to integrate the seamless approach he and Carlton had discussed.
   While he will be working with younger students, Clark noted the fundamentals of creating successful students are the same.
   "I entered education because of the kids and my desire to help them in their education," Clark explained. "That hasn't changed. This is just a different capacity."
   Johnson's move
   Steve Johnson said he is excited about his new assignment.
   "The skills I've developed over the years of organizing and putting things in place will be used at the district office. It's exciting professionally to go to another level and be challenged in new areas," Johnson said.
   During his time as JCMS principal, Johnson said he was proud of several accomplishments.
   "We moved from a school that had gotten a lot of negative attention to something that is now more positive," Johnson observed.
   "The staff came together and recognized the needs of the school and helped establish programs to meet those needs, including focusing on reading," he said.
   Staff training on poverty issues and the emotional needs of middle school kids helped teachers understand and address the challenges of many JCMS students.
   "The staff really worked hard and moved in the right direction. That paid off for the middle school, and kids will be coming to a much better place," Johnson said.