Carpenter leaving, Hover retiring
Elyse Darwood starts as interim principal of Liberty Bell High School (LBHS) in July, at what she and outgoing principal Crosby Carpenter call an especially healthy time for the school.
Darwood brings broad experience to the job, combining a background in teaching English and humanities, leadership, and a focus on helping all students identify the optimal path after high school.
Darwood started her career in education as a student teacher at LBHS in Jane Orme’s English class in 2012. She then taught high school English in Pateros for eight years before joining the Methow Valley School District as an English and humanities teacher, with classes in language arts, social studies, Pacific Northwest history and contemporary world problems at the junior high and high school levels. Darwood started at Liberty Bell in the fall of 2020, when some students were learning online and some in the classroom because of COVID restrictions.
Throughout her time in the Methow, Darwood has been a member of the LBHS leadership team, which supports teachers through professional development. She also headed up the Associated Student Body (ASB) this year.
One of Darwood’s primary emphases at Liberty Bell is through the CLIMBS (Community, Learning, Inquiry, Motivation, Building Skills) program, which helps every student discover the right post-high school opportunities, whether that means college, trade school, an apprenticeship, the work force or some other pursuit. “There are a million ways to achieve the same goal of happiness, success and lifelong learning,” she said.
The combination of teaching, the special culture at Liberty Bell, and her work with the ASB has made the 2022-23 school year the most fun and satisfying in her educational career, Darwood said, so she wondered if it was the right time to step into a new role. But after considering the move and seeing the support from her colleagues, Darwood recognized that she had a powerful opportunity to make the change from a position of strength and enthusiasm.
She’s inheriting a very healthy system and school culture from Carpenter, making it the perfect time for this transition, Darwood said.
With Liberty Bell in such a positive place, Darwood isn’t approaching the job with a punch list of changes. “I want to continue to create a culture of unity within the students and encourage practices that promote growth,” Darwood said. And she wants to ensure that teachers are equipped to support all students’ wide range of interests and needs.
Darwood will focus on strengthening communication and partnership between the school and the community at large, to ensure parents have a voice and that community members feel connected to the school.
The school board, staff and students have all been supportive of promoting from within to maintain a sense of consistency, Darwood said.
Over the next school year, Darwood will be taking classes remotely through Eastern Washington University to obtain her administrative certification. Activities Director and Dean of Students Michael Wilbur is also enrolled in the program. Wilbur will serve as assistant principal next year, in addition to his role as athletic director.
Darwood starts her new job July 1. Her husband, Jess, owns Darwood Outfitting, so Elyse will spend part of July with him and their two children, setting up base camps in the Pasayten Wilderness for pack trips.
After four years at the helm of Liberty Bell High School, Crosby Carpenter is leaving to become principal of Mountlake Terrace High School in the Edmonds School District.
The move satisfies several goals for Carpenter — a larger school (there are 1,400 students from ninth through 12th grade) with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where he’ll be closer to family. Carpenter grew up in Snohomish.
“It’s a new chapter, but it’s really bittersweet,” Carpenter said. He reflected on the phenomenal staff and school culture and the programs created during his tenure, such as outdoor recreation and the middle school for sixth graders. Everyone has worked hard to support students, not only in academics, but also with social and emotional needs, Carpenter said.
He’s especially gratified to see the evolution in the vision of what success looks like, so that all students are celebrated regardless of what they do after high school.
A key element of the health and success of the school is that students know they belong at Liberty Bell regardless of their interests, how they identify, their political beliefs, or whom they choose to love, Carpenter said.
Carpenter is proud of growth in the school’s outdoor-recreation program, which includes development of the mountain bike trail on the campus, disk golf, and expansion of the cross-country ski program.
Having a separate middle school for sixth graders has given those students a unique identity and traditions.
Over the past several years, Liberty Bell has added dual-credit classes in subjects from English to science to Chinese, enabling students to earn college credit while still in high school.
Carpenter and Darwood have worked closely together. “There’s no better person to take over — she’s an advocate for kids, who emphasizes students’ voices and is a uniter in the community,” he said.
“I’m going to miss working and living here — it’s been a really, really rewarding experience,” Carpenter said.
Leanna Jensen starts as the district’s transportation manager on July 1, where she’ll apply the expertise she’s developed over the past four years as operations secretary.
The transportation manager oversees a wide range of things, from keeping the 11 school bus routes filled to filing ridership and fuel-consumption data with the state, to tracking changes when students need to be picked up or dropped off somewhere other than their regular stop, Jensen said. She’s also responsible for ordering supplies, hiring drivers, coordinating training and maintenance, and overseeing the half-dozen vans in the district’s motor pool.
And in the winter, Jensen will be one of the people out surveying road conditions in the wee hours to determine whether to declare to declare a snow day or late start.
Jensen noted that she works in the same building where she went to high school, since she’s a graduate of the Alternative School, which started in what’s now the transportation office.
Over her four years as operations secretary, Jensen worked with Bud Hover, who’s retiring after eight years as director of operations and capital projects. Hover told the school district that he’s proud to have helped carry out the wishes of the community, who voted to support a transportation vehicle fund levy to modernize the district’s bus fleet. Hover also helped oversee upgrades to the school’s athletic facilities, including a new track, weight and conditioning room, playground and multipurpose trail system. He also helped administer replacement of flooring and furnishings throughout the schools.
Hover looks forward to having more time to travel, hunt, hike and camp, and to spending more time with his family.
Elementary teacher Sheryl Wolfe is retiring after a 40-year teaching career, 25 of them in the Methow. Over the years, Wolfe has taught just about everything at the elementary level.
“Although there have been many changes over the last 25 years, some things have remained constant: the exceptional staff and their commitment to doing their best for all students; the on-going efforts of the district to continually grow, improve, and adapt to meet the changing needs of our population; and the generosity of a supportive community to the youth of our valley,” she said.
Wolfe looks forward to more traveling and time with her family.
Carrie Fink, who’s taught in the Methow schools for the past 27 years, is looking forward to a two-year assignment teaching eighth-grade math at The American School of The Hague in the Netherlands. She plans to return to the Methow to teach after her time in the Netherlands. “I am beyond excited to have this opportunity!” Fink said.