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Bambi Van Dyke resigned as academy principal in June after leading the school for two years

PAT KRUIS/MADRAS PIONEER 
 - Warm Springs K-8 Academy Assistant Principal Lonnie Henderson has been named principal, replacing Bambi Van Dyke, who resigned from the position last month.

Warm Springs K-8 Academy Assistant Principal Lonnie Henderson is stepping up to the principal role after Bambi Van Dyke resigned as principal in June.

"He has come full circle from starting his teaching career at the school to now being named principal," said Jefferson County School District 509-J Communications Coordinator Joey Prechtl.

509-J PHOTO - Lonnie HendersonHenderson became assistant principal at Warm Springs K-8 Academy in 2019. He came to 509-J in 1987 as a second-grade teacher for Warm Springs Elementary. He then taught at Metolius and Westside elementary schools and then was an instructional coach for Metolius. Henderson was a school improvement specialist for the district from 2014 to 2019.

Henderson was raised in Madras and graduated from Madras High School in 1981.

"We had multiple candidates as finalists who would be successful principals at the K-8 in Warm Springs," said 509-J Superintendent Jay Mathisen. "Mr. Henderson will bring exceptional instructional leadership knowledge, strong connections with the community, and a high level of trust with the current staff at the school as strengths to the position."

Julia Fall will continue to serve as assistant principal, and the district hopes to have Henderson's assistant principal position filled before the second half of August.

Van Dyke came to 509-J in July 2019 from Montana, where she was an administrator at a K-8 school on the Crow Reservation. As an Assiniboine and Sioux Native American, Van Dyke came to Warm Springs with the goal of promoting the local native culture and languages.

Mathisen said during Van Dyke's two years at the academy, she did focus on language and culture, and more students learned their native languages and culture. He commended Van Dyke for the progress the school made in those areas and said he wants the new leadership to keep moving in that direction.

Henderson will be the fifth principal at Warm Springs K-8 Academy.

Glenna DeSouza was principal of the former Warm Springs Elementary School and was the planning principal in 2013-2014 before the K-8 academy opened. She then led the new school through the end of the 2015 school year.

Ken Parshall came to the district in July 2015 as principal of the Warm Springs K-8 Academy. He served as principal there until the end of the 2018 school year. In his third year, he became school district superintendent while continuing as principal at the academy.

After Parshall left the Warm Springs principal position, Greg Cole served as principal for one school year. The district then hired Van Dyke for the leadership role, which she held for two years.

"Having four principals since 2013, obviously, is not optimal," Mathisen said, pointing out that research shows that less turnover in leadership helps retain staff and helps students learn better.

However, Mathisen said the principal turnover at Warm Springs K-8 Academy is not an outlier. The turnover for school leadership principal jobs in general tends to be very, very high.

"There are probably numbers of other schools around the state and the country in a similar position," Mathisen said. "There's quite a bit being written and discussed about the principalship becoming such a demanding role now, and so it's leading to higher turnover in general."

Mathisen said being a school principal is an extraordinarily hard job. He noted that being high school principal was the hardest job he's ever had in his 26-year public education career.

"We want the best principal in each of our schools, and we recognize that the job of being the principal at the K-8 in Warm Springs is incredibly, incredibly important, so we want the best," Mathisen said. "We're taking this very seriously because leadership matters, and we have very high hopes and want the best for that community and the school that serves it."


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