Medford schools approve hires of 6 principals

Nearly half of Medford School District's elementary schools will have new principals next year, most in response to a flurry of retirements by current school leaders.

The Medford School Board on Tuesday approved hiring six principals after a cross-country search that reeled in 55 applicants from nine states. Several of the hires came from in-district employees, including a current principal and an acting principal.

An interview committee made up of three central office administrators, an elementary school principal and a School Board member interviewed 16 of the 55 candidates in mid-April, said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long.

Candidates were screened based on qualifications and a survey at affected campuses on what staff and parents would like to see in their new school leader, Long said.

Following are the changes:

Kennedy Elementary School

Current Jackson Elementary School Principal Tom Ettel will switch to Kennedy elementary, replacing Janis Shade, who is retiring. Ettel's move is a significant change for Jackson, where he was principal for 13 years. The school is one of the 10 highest-poverty elementary schools in Oregon.

Ettel, who has more than 20 years' experience as an educator, has a master's degree in special education from the University of Oregon.

Jackson Elementary School

South Medford High School alumnus Kelly Soter, a teacher and principal substitute at Central Point Elementary School, will replace Ettel. She has a master's degree in education from the University of Portland.

Griffin Creek Elementary School

Interim Ruch School Principal Louis Dix will move to Griffin Creek Elementary School to take the reins from long-time Principal Ginny Hicks, who is retiring. Dix has been educator since 1992 and came to Medford in 2007 to be an assistant principal at North Medford High School. He has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Portland State University.

Ruch School

At Ruch, Griffin Creek elementary veteran teacher Julie Hill will be promoted to part-time principal and teacher, filling the vacancy left by Dix. Hill teaches sixth grade at Griffin Creek and serves as the administrative assistant. She has a master's degree in administration from Portland State University.

Hoover Elementary School

Hedrick Middle School Assistant Principal Lynn Bergen will take over at Hoover Elementary School, where Principal Phillip Meager is retiring. She has been a teacher since 1995 and has a master's degree in education.

Roosevelt Elementary School

The district hired Kimberly Miles, a teacher at Mooberry Elementary School in Hillsboro, to replace Roosevelt elementary Principal Anne Mitchell, who is retiring. Miles has a master's degree in education from the University of Phoenix.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail

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