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School systems move administrators, hope for success

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First days of school

NACS: Today

FWCS: Monday

EACS: Tuesday

SACS: Wednesday

More in this series

Here's a look at what's coming up:

Monday: FWCS takes a freshman focus.

Tuesday: How are local schools coping with the rising number of Burmese refugees?

Wednesday: Rising costs and falling revenues have schools facing a financial crisis.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 4:31 pm

It's the administrative shuffle. OK, bad joke for all those fans who remember the Super Bowl Shuffle, the rap song and dance from the 1985 Chicago Bears, but nearly 40 school administrators across Allen County will be in new jobs when classes start this year.

Northwest Allen County Schools, whose first day is today, in fact is the only district that didn't make any changes. Fort Wayne Community Schools, which sends students back Monday and is the second-largest district in the state, made 29 moves in all.

Officials call this typical, necessary to ensure students are receiving the best education possible. Little shifts here, big moves there. No big deal - but are all of the changes really for the best?

Former Lakeside Middle School Principal Carlton Mable took his school from five straight years of failing to show Adequate Yearly Progress under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act to a passing score this year. His reward? He was transferred to Wayne High School, FWCS' lowest-performing school.

“Wayne is a homecoming for me,” said Mable. “I think Wayne is the only high school that could have drawn me away from Lakeside.”

Last year, Lakeside was honored by the district for raising its ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus) scores. At Wayne, Mable will be charged with improving a 68 percent graduation rate; the district's average is 75 percent.

“A lot of people forget that we (at Lakeside) came from academic probation to pass AYP last year. I expect the same thing to happen at Wayne,” he said.

Fresh perspectives

Elmhurst and Wayne high schools lost principals under very different circumstances — amid scandal. Elmhurst's principal was the first to go when news broke that a secretary might have had a sexual relationship with a student. The allegations were unfounded, but both the principal and the secretary eventually resigned.

In February, police were called to FWCS' Grile Administration Center after the parents of a 17-year-old student told district officials they believed their daughter was having a sexual relationship with an assistant principal at Wayne.

Kristopher Sennett has since been fired and pleaded guilty to two counts of child seduction. Joselyn Whitticker, his boss, was offered — and accepted — a transfer to North Side High School, where she will teach consumer science.

At East Allen County Schools, which made nine administrative changes, there was far less drama. Deputy Superintendent Jan MacLean said the moves it made were meant to benefit students, not punish anyone.

“One of our philosophies is we want to make sure that we have the right administrators in the right positions,” MacLean said.

Unlike FWCS' changes, many of EACS' were lateral moves. Edwin Yoder went from principal of a high school to one of an elementary school. Some administrators moved from rural to urban schools. Others were promoted.

“I think fresh perspectives are very beneficial,” MacLean said.

Pete Downey, who was promoted to principal at New Haven Middle School after five years as assistant principal, knows that, just like his students, he'll have a learning curve this year. “I had a decent understanding of this job, but not complete. … You go from managing a lot of the students' day-to-day issues to being an instructional leader.

“Kids deal with change a lot better than adults. They really see the people at the top as interchangeable.”

High expectations

NACS' Rick Vorick is not moving, but he has 10 years of experience at Hickory Center Elementary School. Before that he was the longtime principal at Perry Hill Elementary School. He knows the challenges Downey and Mable face.

“You just establish that kind of trust with families,” he said. “I think that's the big benefit of staying around for a while, (that) people get to know you.”

Vorick came to Hickory Center after Perry Hill became too small for its growing enrollment, Hickory Center was built and Vorick - along with many of his students and staff - moved to the new school.

“I tell people I'm known for three things in this community, and one of those is being a principal,” Vorick said.

He called his early days as a principal a time in which he learned by trial and error. He said in his experience, it takes three to five years to develop a system for running a school that works and that people accept.

“So many administrators tend to jump around and get on the latest bandwagon,” he said. “You need to find the one thing that is important to you and stick with it.”

His record shows he knows what he's talking about.

Hickory Center, with 663 students enrolled for the 2007-08 year, boasts test scores far above the state average, putting the school in the top 25 percent academically in Indiana.

“Everyone who is hired here knows the expectation,” he said. “I asked my staff, ‘Why do we have a good school?' and the No.1 response was high expectations.

“I think that's what being in a building for a long time does. You have that continuity. … You change things that need to be changed, but you stick with what works.”

Administration changes

FWCS administrative changes

• Eric Augsburger: Assistant principal at Wayne High to assistant principal at North Side High

• Sharon Bredemeyer: Assistant principal at Elmhurst High to assistant principal at Snider High

• Tim Burton: Athletic director at Elmhurst to athletic director at Wayne

• Deborah Caudill: Assistant principal at Snider to assistant principal at Elmhurst

• Kevin Damerell: Assistant principal at Northrop High to assistant principal at North Side

• Manju Hayes: Assistant principal at North Side to assistant principal at Wayne

• Chad Hissong: New to principal at Elmhurst (was East Allen County Schools assistant principal)

• Linda Johnson: Assistant principal at Shawnee Middle to assistant principal at South Side High

• Tracy Rozier: Counselor at Elmhurst to counselor at Northrop

• David Stinson: Administrative intern at Wayne to assistant principal at Wayne

• Shirley Jones-Sewell: New to counselor at Wayne

• Heather Kolar: New to counselor at Elmhurst

• Jason Nevils: Counselor at North Side to counselor at Wayne

• Shawn Smiley: Assistant principal at Haley Elementary to principal at Shambaugh Elementary

• Carlton Mable: Principal at Lakeside Middle to principal at Wayne

• Victoria Brouwer: Conflict mediator at Wayne to counselor at Snider

• Bradley Ratliff: Counselor at Kekionga Middle to counselor at Northrop

• Ingrid Laidroo-Martin: Administrative intern at Weisser Park to assistant principal at Northcrest Elementary

• Adrienne Shroyer: Counselor at Kekionga to counselor at Shawnee Middle

• Craig Sloan: Special assignment at Northrop to assistant principal at Northrop

• Adam Swinford: Athletic director at Wayne to assistant principal at Northwood Middle

• LeeAnn Thompson: Special assignment at Snider to assistant principal at Snider

• Steve Townsend: Assistant principal at South Side to assistant principal at Elmhurst

• Rebecca Dennis: New to principal at Croninger Elementary (was principal of Southern Wells Elementary in Poneto)

• Gale Powelson: Assistant principal at Northcrest to principal of Bloomingdale Elementary

• Matthew Schiebel: Principal at Northwood to principal at Shawnee

• Dawn Starks: Assistant principal at Weisser Park Elementary to principal of Washington Elementary

• Eric Lambright: Assistant principal at Vikan Middle in Brighton, Colo., to principal at Northwood

• Amy Sivley: Assistant principal and athletic director at Lakeview Middle in Warsaw to principal at Lakeside

East Allen County Schools (9)

• Donna Abbott: Principal at Harlan Elementary to principal at Village Elementary

• Pete Downey: Assistant principal at New Haven Middle to principal at New Haven Middle

• Thelma Green: Principal at New Haven Middle to principal at Prince Chapman Academy

• Marilyn Hissong: Principal at Highland Terrace Elementary to principal at Hoagland Elementary

• Teresa Knoblauch: Assistant principal at Highland Terrace to principal at Highland Terrace

• Patricia Meadows: Athletic director at Harding High to assistant principal at Prince Chapman

• Douglas Pickett: Teacher at New Haven Middle to assistant principal at New Haven Middle

• Deborah Watson: Principal at Prince Chapman to principal at Woodlan Junior-Senior High

• Edwin Yoder: Principal at Woodlan to principal at Harlan Elementary

Southwest Allen County Schools (1)

• Jerry Schillinger: Assistant principal at Homestead High to principal at Woodside Middle

Northwest Allen County Schools (0)

• No changes.