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Gervais School District shakes up administrator roles


Changes in Gervais School District’s administration next year won’t stop with the new superintendent.

At the school board’s regular meeting April 17, Superintendent Rick Hensel, who is resigning as of June 30, announced a new setup that will affect all district administrators starting next school year.

Mike Solem will still be principal of Gervais High School. He has served as principal of grades 6-12 since 2010. Focusing on grades 9-12 will allow him to be project manager the school’s budding career technical education program, along with other high school-oriented projects, he said.

“By taking (the middle school) off my plate, I’ll have more time to focus on this,” he said. “We’re excited about that because we currently don’t have all the opportunities and vehicles that really generate some kids’ interest. That’s going to help kids get excited about school and serve as another vehicle to help kids become proficient with standards.”

But Solem will be helping with the transition of the new Gervais Middle School principal, Ann O’Connell, who currently serves as director of special services for the district, a role she will maintain.

“I have the smallest building in the district (by design) so it allows me more time to still support our special education students, staff and programs,” she explained. “The bulk of our special education students are in the secondary schools as well, so I will be at the end of our campus where much of my focus for special services is needed.”

O’Connell has served as an assistant middle school principal in the past and her office has been located in the middle school for two of the four years she has worked in Gervais.

“I have been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with the middle school staff, students and families since Mike was split between two buildings,” O’Connell said. “I am excited about the opportunity to work closely with the middle school students, staff and families. It is an honor to support our middle school as we navigate the next few years as a team.”

Sylvia Valentine-Garcia, the current principal of Samuel Brown Academy, will add Gervais Elementary School to her principalship duties.

Sharman Ensminger-Stapp, current elementary school principal, will then step into a curriculum director role at the district office, through which she will handle federal funding, teacher evaluations and professional development. Her official title will be director of K-12 teaching and learning.

“I’m thrilled to take on the new challenge of supporting our entire district, K-12, with instruction, learning and assessment,” Ensminger-Stapp said. “With the board’s strategic plan, a new superintendent, and very intentional and well thought out administrative roles, we are primed and ready to move Gervais into extraordinary action.”

She added that she is excited to expand on her recent educational training toward a doctoral degree through her new job.

“This new district-level work will allow me to grow in my own leadership while continually putting research-based strategies into action, and ultimately making a difference for all learners,” she said, adding, “It’s a dream job!”

The administrative duties will take effect July 1, the start date for incoming superintendent Matthew Henry.

The Gervais School Board approved its contract with Henry, who grew up in North Marion County and most recently comes from Siuslaw School District in Florence. The three-year contract states that Henry will receive aa salary of $110,000 for the 2014-15 fiscal year, in addition to $3,000 for moving expenses.

Hensel stated at the board meeting that he felt it wasn’t that he was trying to shake things up before leaving the district, but that he felt it would provide a better support system for the new superintendent.

“We have to consider our strategic plan and the direction the district wants us to go, combined with federal and state mandates,” he said. “The administrators will work closely together.”