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Tigard High School principal to retire in June

Mark Neffendorf will be replaced by assistant principal Andy Van Fleet

Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO - Principal Mark Neffendorf will leave Tigard High School this summer after six years with the district. He previously worked at several districts across the state, most recently Bend High School.Tigard High School will see a major change in leadership next school year, with the departure of Principal Mark Neffendorf.

Neffendorf — known simply as “Neff” to many of THS’s students and faculty — announced his retirement to staff in the fall, according to the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

On Friday, the district announced that it had hired the school’s associate principal, Andy Van Fleet, as new principal. He begins in July.

Neffendorf has had a long history in education spanning several Oregon school districts.

He coached championship-winning basketball teams at Westview and Glencoe high schools before being named assistant principal at Southridge High School in 2000. In 2002 he became principal at Scappoose High School, moving to Bend High School in 2004 before finally stopping at Tigard High in 2009.

Sense of calm

Neffendorf took over Tigard High School at a time of serious instability.

The school’s former principal, Jon Schuhl, was hired in 2008, only to resign two months into the school year. Shortly after his hiring he was convicted of failing to take a Breathalizer test during a traffic stop, which he did not disclose to the district for seven months, when he was arrested again on Oct. 31, 2008 for driving with a suspended license.

Scrambling for a replacement, the school hired Neffendorf, who brought with him a sense of calm, school leaders said.

“Replacing Mark will be a challenge,” said Superintendent Ernie Brown. “Mark has been a strong leader for Tigard High and has built a strong sense of community, there. He has done an outstanding job working with staff to improve achievement and expand opportunities for all Tigard High students.”

Among Neffendorf’s accomplishments include starting a mentor program that pairs students with adults to help them plan for their future. He changed the school’s logo to the oft-called “Power T” which helped instill a sense of school spirit, and brought about “academics week,” a weeklong celebration of the importance of learning. Last year, the school erected a wall honoring distinguished alumni, a hall of fame aimed at honoring students who have gone on to successful careers after graduation.

“He knows all of the kids by name,” said Rachel Edwards, Neffendorf’s secretary. “We’re like a family here. You can feel it when you walk in the building. There is a sense of pride. A sense of safety and respect.”

Meet the new boss

Taking over at Tigard next school year is Van Fleet, a relatively new face at Tigard.

Van Fleet came to Tigard High School in September, initially to replace Tigard’s longtime assistant principal, Barbara Proctor, who retired last year.

Van Fleet was associate principal at Willamette High School in Eugene’s Bethel School District from 2010-2013, but has more than his share of local ties. He began his teaching career in 2002 at Southridge High School, was named a member of Beaverton’s Nike Teacher Leader Academy and, like Neffendorf, is a former basketball coach. He also coach of Southridge’s women’s track and field team.

Van Fleet attended Pacific University, Oregon State University and earned his administrative license through Lewis and Clark College.

In Eugene, Van Fleet helped create programs aimed at helping students do better with writing, reading and math, the district said.

“I’m excited to work with a passionate and dedicated teaching staff while continuing to offer support and guidance to an absolutely phenomenal student body,” Van Fleet said.

Van Fleet begins in July.

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