UPDATED:The top administrator at St. Helens Middle School will retire from the district on Tuesday, Aug. 8, two weeks after giving notice to staff in late July.
St. Helens Middle School Principal Carol Dowsett announced her retirement from the school district in an email to staff Wednesday, July 26, after discussing the decision with Superintendent Scot Stockwell, stating personal reasons for the departure.
Her departure marks the second vacancy of a lead administrative position in the district within a two-month span. High School principal BG Aguirre resigned in June, and district staff are now working to appoint an interim leader before the start of the new school year.
Stockwell said the district will likely follow a similar path for the middle school and find an interim principal for the building when Dowsett leaves, and begin the search for a full-time principal later this year.
Dowsett was hired in 2013 and previously worked in the North Lake School District in central Oregon. She has spent more than 31 years in the education field.
In her years at the middle school, Dowsett said she is most proud of the relationships and sense of cohesion she has been able to foster. Her intent in education is to always inspire students and to make sure they know she and others believe in them, she said.
After retirement, Dowsett plans to move to Texas with her husband, Phillip, to be closer to family and to enjoy a drier climate. The warmer weather in Texas will be better for her husband's health she explained, and will also allow her to be closer to her daughter at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo.
"Had I not needed to make decisions for my family, I would be there with you as you transition in so many ways," Dowsett wrote in her July email to staff. "I have people I consider very close friends among you. I love the town, and I love my school, students, and staff."
Her decision to retire from the Oregon education system was sudden, she explained, and previously she had intentions to stay in the district for many years to come. With the construction of a new middle school building on the horizon in 2018, and her own personal connections with community service and church groups, and a close connection with her staff, Dowsett said it will be difficult for her to leave.
"I love St. Helens. It's really hard to leave. I've invested so much into the community here," Dowsett said, adding, however, that she is at peace with her decision.
This week, Dowsett plans to focus on gathering personal items, meeting with office staff to discuss next steps, and to prepare notes for the incoming administrator.
Dowsett said she hopes to continue working in education in some capacity after she arrives in Texas.
"I can't ever see myself not working with kids," she said. "People are a passion for me."