by: LINDSAY KEEFER - North Marion Middle School's new administration will have familiar faces: (from left) Desiree Kiesel, former vice principal, is now vice principal of secondary teaching and learning; Caan Zarosinski, formerly the middle school counselor, is now vice principal; and Barb Keeton, most recently a sixth-grade teacher, is now principal.With Laurie Cooper moving down the road to Woodburn as a curriculum director, North Marion Middle School will have a major administrator transformation this year.

For the 2013-14 school year, the trio of Barb Keeton, Caan Zarosinski and Desiree Kiesel will be leading the school in the roles of principal, vice principal and vice principal for secondary teaching and learning, respectively.

Keeton has been in the district for her entire education career, most recently serving as a sixth-grade teacher. Zarosinski, who has been middle school counselor, is moving into the vice principal role, which used to be filled by Kiesel.

A newly created position

In the spring, it was decided that Kiesel would take on more of a curriculum and instruction role for grades 6-12.

“She will serve as a support piece under principals in both buildings,” said Superintendent Boyd Keyser, referring to North Marion’s middle and high schools. “We wanted continuity with new standards.”

“Because so much is coming down the pipeline as far as proficiency grading and Common Core State Standards, then on top of that a lack of a curriculum director at the district level, we just started talking about what is a way to create an interim position to transition the schools into all-new systems,” Kiesel added.

Kiesel has previously worked as a district testing coordinator and instructional coach, so she’s bringing that knowledge to her new role at North Marion.

“A lot of what I’ll be doing is instructional coaching and helping teachers as we start putting into practice the district vision we’re working on,” she said. “I’ll also be doing individual coaching and special development meetings in groups to work on some of the initiatives. That’s definitely my comfort zone.”

Keyser added that Kiesel was initially offered the position of principal once Cooper announced her departure, but Kiesel turned it down.

“My job is going to focus on a lot of the knowledge that I specialize in,” she explained. “It was tempting, but I think I can best serve the district staying in the position I have.”

Kiesel is also excited to work with the middle school’s new leadership.

“I’m really excited because both Barb and Caan are both really excellent leaders,” she said. “We worked together last year on the leadership team, so it’ll be interesting to see how everything falls into place. We’re struggling to manage without Laurie but, at the same time, we know she prepped us. Woodburn is gaining a gem but they already know that.”

Budget impact?

Keeton’s role as principal and Zarosinski’s role as vice principal will be on an interim basis for one year, with no one refilling Keeton’s teaching position and an interim in Zarosinski’s counseling position.

By doing this, Keyser said the district will actually be saving nearly $12,000.

“We were able to fund the position by not replacing Barb’s teaching position and not hiring back a part-time technology instructional coach from the (Willamette Education Service District),” Keyser said. “In addition, Barb — as a new administrator — will not make as much as Laurie Cooper did.”

A new challenge

Keeton is fairly new to the education field in general. She first got involved in the district as a parent volunteer in 1997. After moving into an instructional assistant role in a special education classroom at North Marion Intermediate School, she decided to go back to school to get her teaching license. She has been a teacher in the district since 2002, teaching at the primary, third-grade and finally sixth-grade levels. She obtained her administrator certification from Lewis and Clark College in 2009.

“I am passionate about the community and the people there,” she said. “I believe in making the district better and better.”

During her one year at the middle school, she has served on multiple committees and the building leadership team, hoping to make a change for kids system-wide, she said.

“I feel we’re doing really exciting things,” she said. “There are some really awesome things happening there.”

Cooper is also confident in those who will be taking her place at North Marion.

“I feel like the choices for the principal and vice principal are exactly what I would have made,” she said.

Although the district considered finding external candidates to replace Cooper, Keyser said it was too late in the season to get a good response.

“The fact that we had good internal candidates made it an easy choice,” he said. “We’ve been able to leverage where people have strengths and what they can do across buildings, because we don’t have to be enclosed by walls. It’s amazing to watch them working already. They’re very dynamic, bringing great strengths to the positions. It’s a real great trio.”

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