It’s a little early to say goodbye to Deborah DeKalb, Liberty Bell Junior/Senior High School’s retiring principal. There will be an appropriate time to thank her for the many contributions she made to not only the education but also the well-being of the Methow Valley’s children.
But we can start getting more familiar with Crosby Carpenter, who will replace DeKalb at Liberty Bell on July 1. In fact, you may already know him. Carpenter, who was chosen from among four finalists for the position, has lived in the Methow Valley with his family for the past four years while commuting to a job at Chelan High School.
Carpenter comes to the principal’s position with an untypical background, which is to say he did not follow a straight-line education career. He studied natural resource management, taught at Native American schools in New Mexico, and spent a decade as a building contractor — all of which may well come in handy as a school principal.
After earning a master’s degree in education, he taught high school classes before becoming associate principal in Chelan, where he handles a variety of programs. During the selection process, Carpenter emphasized his collaborative approach to leadership and decision-making.
The field of finalists was impressive, indicative of the job’s attraction. It’s a high-visibility role in a small community, and the Methow Valley School District’s selection process contemplated that. The process stressed community involvement including feedback from staff, parents and other valley residents about what they would like to see in a principal.
The four finalists, chosen from nine applicants, were interviewed by a review panel, met with a parent focus group, and took student-guided tours of Liberty Bell and the Independent Learning Center.
Most transparently, the candidates each spoke at a public forum where they could expound on their educational vision and personal style.
The thoroughness and openness of the process should give the community confidence that the selection committee made a good recommendation to Superintendent Tom Venable. For more information about that, see the story on page A1 of this week’s newspaper.
Meanwhile, a similar search continues to replace retiring Principal Bob Winters at Methow Valley Elementary School. Parents and community members were again invited to contribute thoughts about a “candidate profile” to help guide the selection process.
Being the principal of any public school these days is a multi-faceted challenge that requires not just educational proficiency, but also a wide range of personal skills and the ability to manage through the kinds of crises that modern schools sometimes face. The Methow Valley School District is taking great care in its choices with all that in mind.
Last week’s article about a recently completed assessment of health care needs in the Methow Valley should generate hope as well as concern. The study didn’t identify any new issues. We’re familiar with the valley’s health care challenges, and most of us have dealt with one or more of them in serious circumstances.
So while it may reiterate some things we already know, the value of such a study is to clearly define the needs with an eye toward solutions. As noted in the article, the goal of the local health care providers who commissioned the study was to improve the quality of health services in the valley by developing an integrated approach. To do that, you need a thorough understanding of the problems before you can begin solving them.
Along with the findings came potential strategies — things that the community can start figuring out how to accomplish, short- and long-term. There are no quick, wholesale solutions, especially given the uncertain state of medical care and health insurance in rural areas like ours. But a succession of coordinated actions can, over time, begin to make a difference. And as we have seen often in the Methow Valley, once this community gets some momentum going it can be a formidable force for change.
— Don Nelson