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'Interim' dropped from AHS principal's title

When Erika Bare agreed last May to stand in as Ashland High School’s interim principal for the 2015-16 school year, she had no intention of keeping the position beyond the one-year deal she struck with Superintendent Jay Hummel.

Then, something unexpected happened. The job grew on Bare. So when a committee tasked with analyzing the high school’s leadership structure concluded about three weeks ago that keeping the position of principal was in fact in the high school’s best interest, Bare decided she would apply. Hummel recommended Bare for the job, and during a school board meeting Dec. 16, the board unanimously approved the move and officially removed Bare’s “interim” label.

“It doesn’t feel hugely different because, of course, when you’re in the work, you’re just kind of head down and moving forward,” Bare said. “But a lot of the work that I’m busy with right now are not projects that can be finished before June — they’re two-, three-year projects. So it’s nice to know that as I’m working on things now that I’ll have the ability to see those through to the end.

“I think it allows us to feel more settled. It’s nice for everyone to know what’s happening next … so I think everyone feels settled and content knowing that it’s decided and that we can move forward and have a direction. It was nice to go into the holiday break with all of that decided and behind us.”

Back in May, after the former assistant principal had agreed to take over on an interim basis for former AHS principal Michelle Zundel, Bare said it was a decision “made in service” and that she didn’t anticipate wanting the job long term. She had her reasons. Most notably, Bare has two preteen daughters and wasn’t sure whether the demands of the new job could fit into her personal life.

As time went on, Bare came to realize she could handle the time commitment and loved the work.

“No one is as surprised as I am how much I’ve come to love this job,” she said. “... It was a couple months into it when I really started to realize how much I enjoyed the work.

“There are lots of reasons,” she said. “Being in the principal role I’m able to work with a much broader group of students and teachers, and you have a wider reach, so you’re able to support teachers in a way that allows them to work with their students more effectively in a more significant way than I was able to do as an assistant principal.”

Hummel spoke glowingly of Bare during the Dec. 16 school board meeting. Later, Director of Education and Human Resources Patty Michiels listed Bare’s credentials and said comments by staff members regarding Bare had four main themes: She’s capable, collaborative, student-centered and “has a solid grounding in instruction, which is what we look for in our administrators.”

Bare received her master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon and also has credentials in special education, math and early elementary education.

Before arriving in Ashland in 2012, Bare worked as a teacher on special assignment in the Medford School District.

Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@dailytidings.com.

Erika Bare