Monday, December 09, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Craig Harlow, left, will take over as principal at Ash Creek Elementary School, while Greg Mitchell takes the reins at Central High School. Both are experienced administrators who came to Central School District from Hillsboro.
August 13, 2013
MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- It was no shock to Central School District administrators when former principals Barb Welander of Ash Creek Elementary School and Sylvia Warren of Central High School announced their retirements last year.
The district knew well in advance of their plans and got to work early to find replacements.
What the district didn't know was that the new principals for both schools would be coming from the same school district.
Greg Mitchell was the assistant principal at Glencoe High School and Craig Harlow pulled double duty as the principal at North Plains and West Union elementary schools, all in the Hillsboro School District.
The pair officially started work at their new schools late last month, but signed contracts back in April.
By the time school ended, Mitchell and Harlow were already making trips to Monmouth and Independence to get to work.
"I've been here pretty much through the month of July," Mitchell said. "I really benefited from being in early and having the door open to me with staff. I've had that opportunity to have a lot of conversations."
Mitchell, 47, had been looking at CHS for many years and when he heard Warren was retiring, he jumped at the chance to come on board.
In the 17 years Mitchell has been in education, he spent eight years at Glencoe as an assistant principal, one year at Seven Oak Middle School in Lebanon as an assistant principal and eight years in the Salem-Keizer School District as a teacher.
Throughout that time Mitchell has lived in Salem and spent plenty of time in and around Independence.
"I eat at the Ragin' River Steakhouse, I go to the Independence Cinema, go to the Pink House Cafe," Mitchell said. "I go to the Fourth of July. I'm very familiar with Independence and Monmouth."
Mitchell's experience is mostly with larger schools, but his attention to each student is something that will allow him to mesh well with Central's smaller size, he said.
"Despite the size of the district, we all have the same requirements and mandates by the state.
"Folks in a smaller district wear several hats. It's a lot easier to make systemic changes when you have a smaller operation."
Mitchell and his family are still living in Salem -- his commute is down to 15 minutes from just over an hour to Hillsboro. His wife, Allison, teaches at Willamette University and his 14-year-old son, Joshua, will be attending West Salem High School in the fall.
Mitchell's goal of working at Central was mirrored by the Harlows' desire to move to a smaller, more tightly-knit community.
Harlow, 50, spent the past four years in Hillsboro at North Plains as its principal and also at West Union as its principal last year. Before that he was the principal of South Baker Elementary School in Baker City for three years, and in the Bend/La Pine School District for 11 years as a teacher, elementary principal and assistant middle school principal.
He began his career in education as a teacher in the Chehalis, Wash. school district for four years.
"We wanted to be in a smaller community. I like not getting stuck on (Oregon Route) 217 or Highway 26 for 45 minutes," Harlow said. "We like the rhythm of the smaller community and knowing your neighbors and actually saying `hi' to them."
Just prior to Harlow coming on board at Ash Creek, a full time physical education teacher was hired -- part of the district's initiative to expand P.E. thanks to extra appropriations from the state. The school has also hired two new teachers since Harlow started.
Harlow has no illusions about the challenge he is facing following in Welander's footsteps. She was there at the school's opening 11 years ago, after all.
"Everything that I've heard about Barb is that she was a wonderful school leader, principal and person," Harlow said. "It's a nice situation in some aspects and it's a high expectation to follow up to. A culture has been set, a really positive and meaningful one for students and families."
Harlow's son -- Jordan, 22 -- graduated from Linfield College in June and played third base for the Wildcats' NCAA Division III national championship baseball team.
Maggie Harlow, 19, is attending Linfield now. The youngest Harlow, Cramer, 17, will be attending Central High in the fall.
Transitioning from the hustle and bustle of the Portland metro area to the smaller, slower pace of Independence has been an easy task, Harlow said.
"For us it was two-fold: professionally for me, but just as important, if not more, was family.
"It just fits our lifestyle a lot better. It's been really positive."