St. Helens names new principals at high, middle schools
The St. Helens School District will have two new principals filling open positions at the high and middle schools this fall.
The district has hired Katy Wagner to fill a vacancy at St. Helens High, and current St. Helens High assistant principal Cris Gwilliam will transfer into the role as principal at St. Helens Middle.
Gwilliam joined the St. Helens High staff in 2013, filling the assistant principal position vacated by BG Aguirre, who had been promoted to work as the school's principal. Last summer, Aguirre took a position with Portland Public Schools, leaving an opening for the lead admin role at the high school.
At the middle school, longtime Principal Carol Dowsett announced her retirement at the end of the 2016-17 school year, leaving a second administrative position open at the school.
The school district board brought in two interim principals for the high school, and one interim principal for the middle school, during the 20170-18 school year to fill the gaps, while it recruited for full-time hires.
In February, the district began the process of reviewing 29 applications submitted for the two positions — 12 for the high school and 17 for the middle school.
In a press release from the district, Gwilliam expressed his feelings about taking on the task of leading the middle school.
"It is a blessing to have been chosen to be a principal in the St. Helens School District, a district which is well known for its diverse educational opportunities and dedication to its students," Gwilliam stated. "Over the past 18 years, I have worked as a teacher, coach, athletic director, dean of students, administrator, and most importantly an advocate for students."
Gwilliam has a bachelor of science in sports medicine and a masters of arts in teaching from Pacific University. Over the course of his career, Gwilliam has taught science, literacy, health and physical education at the middle school level.
"I am looking forward to returning to the middle level and am excited to collaborate with teachers and staff to create a safe and engaging educational experience for students at St. Helens Middle School," he added in the release.
In his tenure at the high school, Gwilliam worked to develop the schools' college and career readiness program, and helped implement an approach to teaching and learning for staff through the schools AVID program, or Advancement Via Individual Determination.
"My goal next year — and every year — will be to get to know each of the students in our school and what makes them unique while partnering with teachers and staff to celebrate their successes and support them in their struggles," Gwilliam stated. "I want students, faculty, and staff to step onto campus each day and feel valued and know that they are a critical part of our school and community."
At the high school, students, staff and parents will see a new face in the administration office — Katy Wagner.
Wagner taught in Portland and was the vice principal at Cleveland High School starting in 2014. Wagner also taught choir, physics and chemistry in Beaverton and Portland, according to a press release from the district.
During her tenure at Cleveland High, Wagner worked with career and technical education programs and AVID, both of which are robust at SHHS currently.
Wagner received her doctorate of education in neuroeducation from the University of Portland, masters of arts in teaching for science and music, and a bachelor's degree in research psychology, premedical studies and vocal music from Pacific University.
Originally from San Diego, Wagner was active in music, softball, color guard and rodeo, and currently enjoys skiing, camping, fishing and crabbing. Wagner is engaged, has three daughters and a dog, Roxy, the release added.
In the release Wagner stated she is, "Eager to join the St. Helens community, [and] looks forward to working with teachers, students, and families to build a school climate where teachers want to teach, students want to learn, and the community wants to be involved."