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Cookson fills out NHS admin team

High school — The former Reynolds HIgh School instructional coach tabbed as assistant principal


With Green School principal Karen Pugsley electing to take over as principal at Chehalem Valley Middle School, incoming Newberg High School principal Mark Risen was suddenly in need of another assistant principal this summer.

Superintendent Kym Le­Blanc-Esparza announced last school year that changes would be made to the administrative structure at NHS, moving away from four small-school principals and hiring Risen to serve as lead principal with three assistants.

After re­eiving more than 60 applications for the position, Risen and the district’s search committee have tabbed Rey­nolds in­struc­tional coach Janay Cook­son to round out the high school’s leadership team.Cookson

Cookson joins former Blue School principal Dan Malone and previously hired Alaina Santana as part of the administration after Yellow School principal Stafford Boyd was named district director of secondary teaching and learning and Silver School principal Eric Berg­mann elected not to return.

“We saw (Cookson is) very articulate and bright and great with kids, so with the reorganization we’re going through and with what we need to do in aligning our curriculum and getting our staff the professional development they need, Janay is an invaluable resource in all those things,” Risen said. “It was a great opportunity for us to get her on our team.”

Cookson has served as an instructional coach at elementary, middle and high school levels in the Rey­nolds School District for the past two years.

Prior to that, she worked as an interim middle school principal in Troutdale and interim athletic director at Wilsonville High School.

Cookson, who is entering her 15th year as an educator, taught middle school wellness classes related to sports performance and lifelong wellness at Athey Creek Middle School in West Linn and at Cedar Park Mid­dle School in Beaverton.

A resident of Newberg for the past nine years, the opportunity to advance in administration and work near home were strong draws for Cookson.

“I’m really excited just to be serving and giving back to the community that I’m living in,” Cookson said. “Everything just kind of fell into place. There was an opening and I thought it was the right time, so let’s go for it.”

Cookson said she is excited to be a part of the changes at NHS. Having helped lead a transition in instructional process for Reynolds, she already knows she enjoys that kind of process.

The hiring committee not only liked her resume and experience, but was impressed with her interpersonal skills and attitude.

“It was very clear that she’s got a passion for working with kids, for helping them, and has had her own set of life experiences that she can lean on in helping kids as they face adversity in their lives,” Risen said. “You could just see there was an authentic sincerity about her that she’s going to be great with people overall.”



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