Junior/senior high, grade school chiefs to begin next fall

The Gaston School District has selected two new principals — one from outside Oregon and the other from iniside the state — for its junior/senior high school and elementary school to round out an almost entirely new team of administrators next fall.

CollinsChristine Collins will replace Susan McKenzie as the high school principal, and Tim Larkin will take over for Yvonne Rauch as elementary school principal.

McKenzie is leaving her principal post to take over for current district Superintendent David Beasley, who’s retiring at the end of the school year. Rauch is also retiring.

Collins, the principal of New Plymouth Middle School in Idaho, said she saw Gaston’s Greyhounds mascot as a sign: Collins was named after her parents’ winning greyhound, which won a huge race the night she was born.

It was the mascot — and the fact that the job opening in Gaston came at the same time her husband’s job pulled them back to the Willamette Valley — that enticed Collins, who said she’s excited to return to the Portland area, where she lived for a time after college.

A self-described “small-town girl” who grew up in Texas, Collins appreciates the value of education and a strong school in a small community that helps teachers and students form a “long-term connectedness.”

Holding a few summer socials tops the list of Collins’ immediate to-dos so she can get acquainted with community members, parents, teachers and students. Getting to know local residents is the first step toward Collins’ ultimate goal to “ensure the quality of education in Gaston schools is exemplary,” she said. “I want to make sure students are growing and learning at a rate they need to [in order] to walk across that stage at graduation and be proud of their education.”Collins will be joining Larkin in the lineup of new top administrators — principals, superintendent and business manager — for the 2014-15 school year.

“I love challenges and I love working with new people to make reality out of dreams,” said Larkin, a graduate of Tigard High School who’s been living in southern Oregon for the last 23 years.

LarkinLarkin is currently the principal of Myrtle Creek Elementary School in Myrtle Creek, Ore., which is a slightly bigger school than Gaston Elementary.

Larkin said he was impressed with Gaston’s current teaching system, specifically the blended classes that help meet students’ needs in a small district.

Larkin’s said his goals include addressing changes in the common core standards and involving community institutions in the district.

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