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North Clackamas Christian principal remembered

Julie Phipps, an Oregon City resident and principal of North Clackamas Christian School, died Sept. 18 at the age of 60. She had been battling cancer since NCCS hired her July 1, 2010.

by: NCCS - Julie PhippsUpon her arrival, the school was at a historic low point in attendance and had only 147 students committed to attending in the fall. Phipps’ skill with relationship building is credited with increasing that number to 174 by the beginning of 2010/11 school year. She then made it her goal to welcome 250 students and at the beginning of this school year, and NCCS opened its doors on the first day to 252 students.

“She was joyful, delightful person who did a lot of emotional work with families, and she will be greatly missed,” said NCCS Office Manager Sherrie Fillis. “She was here to greet families on the first day of school, but she wasn’t really able to return.”

Since she died early in the morning, a school-wide assembly was held on Sept. 18, when Phipps’ pre-prepared statement was read.

“To my dear students: You have been life giving to me,” she wrote in one section of the speech. “My little lifesavers. No matter how I walked in through the front doors of our school you would immediately bring a gladness to my heart, filling it to overflowing! Your sweet notes, pictures, hugs, gifts and smiles are treasures tucked away in my heart.”

Wayne Lindsey, an NCCS academic advisor who also teaches math and theatre, has been acting as interim principal since the start of the school year while Phipps has been on sick leave. Hired in 2004, Lindsey had been working closely with Phipps during the previous school year.

“He was a very natural person to fit into the role,” Fillis said.

While at North Clackamas Christian, Phipps started each morning with biblically inspired loudspeaker announcements to encourage her staff and students. Another first she ushered in for NCCS was an inaugural school dance, reportedly also well-received.

Life of an educator

Phipps was born Sept. 18, 1953, to John and Barbara Schoppert in the Panama Canal Zone while her father was stationed there. Starting in early childhood, she went by Julie instead of her given name, Julia, and her family lived in a number of places including the Florida Keys; Milford, Conn.; Tennessee; Oxnard, Calif.; and eventually settling in San Diego.

After graduating high school, she attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, where she fell in love with Chuck Phipps, executive chef at Columbia Edgewater Country Club where she was working in food services. They have been married since March 24, 1985.

She then attended Warner Pacific College and graduated with bachelor’s degree in English. She went on to complete a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction along with endorsements in the areas of superintendent, principal, English/language arts and speech from Washington State University.

Her first official job in education was as a speech coach at Prairie High School in Battleground, Wash. After a few years, she relocated to Maple Valley, Wash., to become assistant principal at Tahoma High School. They ended up keeping their house in Vancouver at this time, but secured a townhouse while in Maple Valley. After several years in Northern Washington, a close friend connected her with the principal position coming available in Pleasant Valley Middle School in Vancouver, Wash.

As principal at Kingsway Christian School in Vancouver, Wash., she navigated the school through a $9.5 million building program for a new high school and was key person in its fundraising effort. She was also principal of the middle school in the North Thurston School District in Olympia, Wash. While principal of NCCS, she attended Stone Creek Christian Church in Oregon City.

Mrs. Phipps is survived by her husband, Chuck; mother, Barbara; brothers, Jeffery and John; sister, Jill Cuddy; daughter, Melinda (Mark) Hendrickson and granddaughter Esmaya, a seventh grader at NCCS. She was preceded in death by her father.

Her memorial service is scheduled at Warner Pacific College in the McGuire Auditorium, 2219 S.E. 68th Ave., Portland, on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m.