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A loss for LOSD, 'but a gain for Arizona'

LOJ Principal Robert Caplinger bids farewell to colleagues and friends at an event last week


REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Danielle Miller, in her second year on the School Advisory Committee with Lake Oswego Junior High, writes a note to Robert Caplinger on a wine tag. Attendees all were welcome to pen special notes.Robert Caplinger’s friends, colleagues and staff gathered around him May 26 to wish him well in his new venture as principal of a K-8 school in Phoenix.

After serving at Lake Oswego Junior High School for several years, most recently as principal, Caplinger found himself surounded by dozens of people who squeezed into a reserved party area at Baird’s on B for the three-hour event.

“It’s humbling, and it also makes it all very real,” Caplinger says. “It’s sad to leave, but it helps me understand how many wonderful people I’ve worked with over the years.”

Caplinger, who also has experience as a teacher and counselor, joined the Lake Oswego School District in 2005 as vice principal of LOJ. Five years later, he moved to Lakeridge High School, where he held the job of assistant principal.

Already in possession of a bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Riverside, a master’s in education from Whittier College and a master’s in counseling from University of LaVerne, Caplinger went on to receive a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Oregon while he was employed at Lakeridge High.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Baird's on B was packed, as many people showed up to celebrate Robert Caplinger's retirement.

He returned to LOJ as principal in the 2013-14 school year, replacing Ann Gerson, who retired.

Now, Caplinger is relocating to Arizona to be closer to family and to serve as principal of a K-8 school in Phoenix.

“I think it’s a real loss for the district, but a real gain for Arizona,” says Desiree Fisher, who is currently LOJ’s assistant principal and will be a Lakeridge High assistant principal in the fall.

As of July 1, Caplinger’s replacement will be Sara Deboy, currently principal of Hallinan Elementary. The new principal of Hallinan will be Alix Pickett, currently assistant principal at Lakeridge Junior High.

Even though Caplinger is moving on, he leaves behind a legacy of innovation.

LOJ registrar and processor Marie Shakerin says Caplinger has inspired many improvements in the three years that she has known him. Working with him has been fun and full of opportunities, Shakerin says.

“I’ve learned a lot from him, and I will miss him,” she says. “I will miss his leadership skills, his sense of humor, his ability to have a vision and carry it through for his students. He’s done a lot for the school spirit.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Principal's secretary Connie Sturm gets a farewell shoulder squeeze from Robert Caplinger.Shakerin says she is especially impressed with the awards program Caplinger created to honor students at the end of each school year. Principal’s secretary Connie Sturm, who met Caplinger when he was hired at LOJ 11 years ago, also compliments his achievements and ideas.

“He is so smart, and he is such a visionary and has such a clear picture of how to make things happen,” Sturm says. “He has an eye for detail and how to make things come together. I never feel like anything is haphazard.”

While at LOJ, Caplinger launched the National Junior Honor Society and started the school’s award-winning leadership program, Sturm says.

Lisa Shaw-Ryan, who collaborated with Caplinger on the school auction while she was the LOJ Parent Club president, also attributes his methodical but out-of-the-box approach to making life better at LOJ. Shaw-Ryan says the list of needs he helped her brainstorm was instrumental in making the auction a success.

He took “a pragmatic approach to, ‘What do we need?’” she says. “‘What do the teachers need?’”

That’s just how Fisher says she found it to work with Caplinger, who was always quick to respond to whatever the school needed.

“He’s a problem solver,” she says.

Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..