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Scappoose educator announces resignation after 17 years in school district

Grant Watts Elementary School principal, Dana Larson, will finish school year before leaving in June

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Grant Watts Elementary School Principal, Dana Larson, talks to two first-graders, Kayla Sundin and Hailey Cotner, during recess on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Larson said he enjoys interacting with students every day as one of the highlights of his job.The principal at Grant Watts Elementary School announced his resignation to school staff Thursday, Jan. 7, and to the Scappoose School Board on Monday, Jan. 11.

Dana Larson, who has been the principal with Grant Watts for six years, announced his resignation from the district last week after he made the personal choice to leave at the end of the school year. Larson will remain with the school district until June 30, but said he chose to announce the decision now to give the district time to find a suitable replacement.

During a Scappoose School Board meeting Monday, several board members and a third-grade teacher, Marci Wood, expressed their appreciation for Larson’s years of service to the school district and wished him well on future career endeavors.

“I’m excited about the future, but I’m still sad to be leaving all these relationships behind. I’m thankful for those relationships with the community and the parents and the students and the staff, and I will miss that, because even though I’ll have those things somewhere else, they won’t replace these,” Larson said.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - A group of first-graders at Grant Watts Elementary School play a game of catch with their principal, Dana Larson, on a rainy Tuesday morning during recess. The occaional supervision of recess is one of Larson's many roles at the school.Currently, Larson does not have a job lined up after his resignation, but he is keeping an open mind about what employment opportunities may become available later this year. His decision to leave the district was recent, but Larson said it felt like the right time to go.

“Like with so many jobs, anyone who applies themselves and looks at the opportunities to grow and develop in that position can sometimes reach a point where they feel like that growth has maybe leveled off, or you don’t see the opportunities that you might want to grow more. So I’m looking for a job where I can do that,” Larson said.

Larson explained that while being in a small school district has afforded him opportunities he might not have had in a larger district, the size can limit the potential for professional development and growth.

Larson has been with the Scappoose School District for 17 years. He worked as an eigth-grade language arts teacher and on special assignment positions at Scappoose Middle School, Warren Elementary School, Otto Petersen Elementary School, and Grant Watts Elementary School over his many years in the district. Prior to that, Larson also worked with the St. Helens School District for seven years.

After his first year of teaching in Scappoose in 1999, Larson was honored as a “Teacher of the Year,” which he calls one of the major highlights of his career in the Scappoose School District.

The most rewarding aspect of his job, Larson said, is the daily interactions with students.

“Ultimately, the biggest highlights would be the day-to-day interactions with students,” Larson said. “I feel these kids have kind of revitalized me and kind of given me some longevity in terms of my career. I have no rush to retire.”