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The popular Newberg High assistant principal takes over for the departing Ann Ziehl

Tony Buckner, a popular figure at Newberg High School for the past six years, has advanced to the head office after a promotion last month.

Buckner, formerly an NHS administrator, is the school district's new director of special education, replacing the departing Ann Ziehl, a release said.

Buckner, 46 and a native of Lehi, Utah, joined the school district as a psychologist, then a year later was named assistant principal at the high school.COURTESY PHOTO: NSD - Tony Buckner, formerly an NHS adminstrator, is the school district's new director of special education, replacing the departing Ann Ziehl.

"Tony is a proven leader in the Newberg Public Schools system. His strong work ethic and his focus on healthy relationships will be a huge asset as he takes on this new role," Superintendent Steve Phillips said. "I am very excited for the opportunity to work with him in serving some of our most vulnerable students."

Buckner's past experience made him a good fit for the job.

"He has worked closely with counselors, intervention teams and special education staff, both at NHS and across the district," the release said.

Buckner's education background includes graduate degrees in educational leadership and school psychology from the University of Nevada — Las Vegas and the University of Portland, as well as a law degree from Hamline School of Law.

Prior to his stint in Newberg, Buckner amassed an extensive background in special education in a variety of settings. He worked at a state correctional school before hiring on a school psychologist, as a compliance coordinator at an online academy, at the state level as an educational specialist and as a district coordinator for outside placements.

"While I enjoy working with students and educators at all levels, I especially love working with students, families and staff right here in Newberg," Buckner said in the release. I can't think of a better place to be."

Buckner described his new post as overseeing all special programs in the district, including special education, counseling, TAG (Talented and Gifted), ELL (English language learning) and the district's flight and intervention teams.

He explained his inspiration for applying for the job: "I believe we can do better. We have very talented people here in Newberg and they all have a passion to work with kids. I love this work and want to see all students achieve the very best."

To that end he has specific goals he wants to accomplish in the position.

"I want to see us immediately find the staff we need to be our best," he said. "After that, I want to support the staff in their work and help them do their job as best as possible. We have many staff who are helping their colleagues everyday but they can't do it all. Building in supports for every school and across our district will be important. I want students and staff to know how we do things in a consistent way, regardless of school or location. More than anything, I want our students and our families to know that we love our work and will do whatever it takes to see them grow and succeed."

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