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After the 22 year in West Linn-Wilsonville district, Meg Leonard is ready to lead Cedaroak Park as principal

PMG PHOTO: JONOTHAN HOUSE - Stafford Instructional Coordinator Meg Leonard will take over as principal of Cedaroak Park Primary School next year. When Meg Leonard first began teaching over 20 years ago, she never imagined she would one day become a principal. In fact, the Leonard's entire career has been characterized by shifts and surprises she never envisioned for herself.

Leonard, the current instructional coordinator at Stafford Primary who was recently named the next principal of Cedaroak Park, never even intended to become a teacher.

"I've always been an educator at heart. I didn't know that about myself though," she said. "I was working in the outdoor field and kept getting drawn back into the education element of it and finally realized it really was my passion and pursued that career path."

Leonard then became a teacher at a middle school in Chicago, where she grew up.

After a few years there, the Masters of Arts in Teaching program at Lewis & Clark College drew Leonard to Oregon, where she has taught for nearly 25 years — a few years at districts around the Portland area and 22 at West Linn-Wilsonville.

Leonard's first job in the district was teaching first and second grade at Boeckman Creek. She also worked at Cedaroak and Bolton before becoming the instructional coordinator at Stafford three years ago. In this position, she coordinated world language programs, the child study process, professional development, school testing and more.

"I have loved my time at Stafford. This is just a wonderful team, instructional coordinators, teachers, families, leadership" Leonard said. "I have learned so much working with Sara McCarney during her first three years as a principal and she's been very open and inviting when it comes to navigating the role of the principalship so it's been really exciting to work alongside her."

Leonard's love for the district is one reason she is so excited to take the Cedaroak principal position.

"It means the world to me," she said of her appointment as Cedaroak principal. "I've been so involved with this school district for so long. My own children went through this school district preschool through 12th grade and I really believe in the work and the mission of this school district so I couldn't be happier to be a principal for West Linn-Wilsonville."

Leading a school from the principal's office is something Leonard never imagined for herself.

"As I grew as a teacher, I became more aware of the bigger picture in the school and was really excited by leadership opportunities and pursued the preliminary administrative license at Lewis & Clark and from that first class, I was hooked," Leonard said. "I really love the work of educational leadership."

Leonard already has taken on some of that role as an instructional coordinator, which has allowed her to see tje cogs and components that make the school come to life, she said.

Though all the experience in the world couldn't prepare a teacher for all the unforeseen challenges that come with leading a primary school, this unpredictability is what excites Leonard about teaching.

"Some of the magic in being an educator is there are always new challenges every day," Leonard said. "Working in collaboration with a team really leads to more successful outcomes.

"I think the challenges will continue and I can't know exactly what they are, but I know they'll come, and I am really confident with the Cedaroak team that we will face those with joy and with insight."

More than anything, Leonard is excited to rejoin the team at Cedaroak.

"I cannot wait to get to know all of the Cedaroak Park community, children, staff, and families," she said. "I look forward to learning with each community member in an inclusive context of joy and growth."

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