New principal comes from McKay High School, replacing Sean Aker, who has been in the Mount Angel post for three years

Kennedy High School will have a new principal next year, and the district announced last week it will be Dale Pedersen.

COURTESY PHOTO - Dale PedersenPrincipal Sean Aker tendered his resignation last month, effective the end of the school year. Aker has been principal for three years, the longest tenure the position has seen in many years. When he was hired he was the fourth JFK principal in five years.

It is unclear what Aker's next career step will be, but he did comment that he is proud of many things from his time in Mount Angel, specifically two: clarifying graduation guidelines and expanding the CTE programs.

"It's been a quick three years, to say the least," he said in a written statement. "There have been so many positive changes in such a short amount of time. It's been great to help so many teachers find their place as leaders. When I arrived, teachers worked in isolation and systems worked independently. As I leave, people are collaborating like never before and several teacher leaders are coordinating the efforts."

Under Aker's leadership, the school has established weekly advisories to connect students with an adult adviser in the building for "relationship building and student goal setting," Aker said, but also for keeping record of a student's progress toward graduation.

"It's been a blessing to have lead such good work for the students of Mount Angel," Aker wrote. "And, I look forward to future collaborations with the school district." (Read more from Aker in a letter to the editor on Page A6.)

Superintendent Troy Stoops said that three committees formed to conduct interviews April 17 with five of the 19 candidates who applied or the spot being vacated by Aker. Those committees were made up of 20 students, 14 staff members and five parents. April 23 the pool was reduced to two, and April 24 the position was accepted by Pedersen, who made it to the top of the committees' lists, Stoops said. The hire will be official at the May 14 school board meeting, Stoops said.

Pedersen comes from McKay High School in the Salem-Keizer School District where he has served as an assistant principal, behavioral specialist and secondary math teacher.

"Dale comes highly recommended by collegues and supervisors," Stoops said in a letter sent out to staff last Wednesday.

Pedersen lives in South Salem with his two children and his wife, who is a special education teacher in the Silver Falls School District.

His first day in Mount Angel will be Aug. 1.

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