Jo Ann Wadkins new Principal at Cleveland High
In the course of the past school year, Cleveland High School had three different Principals. Last fall, Leo Lawyer was recruited for the position from the same role at a middle school on the Oregon coast. However, he resigned after a few months, and was replaced on an interim basis by Paul Cook, who had retired as C.H.S.'s Principal back in 2015. This summer, Cook returned to retirement, was replaced by Jo Ann Wadkins – who had most recently been Vice Principal at Lincoln High School.
Prior to that, Wadkins had spent fifteen years as a teacher and instructional leader at Lincoln. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic having closed all area schools this past spring, most of the District's nine comprehensive high schools are going to have a new Principal this fall. Portland Public Schools has yet to determine all the details of exactly how classes will proceed; how many hours and classes will be held on-site, and how many will be taught online via distance learning. [See separate BEE article for the latest information at press time.]
Wadkins has taught IB Physics, Astronomy, and Theory of Knowledge. She also played lead roles in such key programs as School Improvement, IB, Site Council, and Freshman Success. In July she met with the C.H.S. PTA, assuring them she was eager to meet staff, students, and families, and to move equity work forward. "We also have some hiring we need to do," she revealed. "It's important for incoming freshmen to feel connected, and part of the C.H.S. community.
"During these stressful times, with the pandemic and Portland's protests, strong emotions and feelings have arisen," Wadkins remarked. "We must not remain silent. We need to allow student discussions, and a safe space to process tense moments, in order to move on to a constructive resolve." But since the Governor has postponed any general in-classroom classes until at the very least November, forcing all schools to start out "online only", it appears that – for most Cleveland High students – their initial connectedness may just be to the Internet, and their new acquaintances may mostly be made virtually.
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