Patti RasmussenThe SignalPauline HarteRichard RiouxTim WhyteLeon Worden

Hart, Newhall districts pick new leaders

Patti Rasmussen · August 9, 1997

School is still a good month away for most of us, although some children are on a year-round schedule and have been sweltering in this heat. During the summer a lot of administrative changes have been going on, none more so than in my little corner of the valley.

Starting with the Newhall District, two new principals have been chosen. At Newhall Elementary School, Mr. Stephen Wright has been named as the new leader of the pack and I, for one, couldn't be happier.

Wright has been the assistant principal for the last couple of years, as well as the principal of the summer school program. During those years, he was always a visible presence especially during Open House, lunch and recess times and, most importantly, after school when craziness seems to overtake some students and their parents when it comes to grabbing that ride home (and I mean the double-parking, kids darting in between cars or playing the dangerous game of "Let's see if I can make it across Newhall Avenue before the Hart High kids come barreling down the street!").

Mr. Wright was an excellent sixth grade teacher -- we loved his students' city. He is married to another teacher, Michelle, who is expecting the couple's first child any day now. Newhall parents to whom I have spoken are thrilled with the school board's choice.

At Peachland Elementary, Mr. Ernie Jackson will be the new principal. I don't know much about Mr. Jackson, but I've been told he comes from a school in Glendale that is multi-track, he is bilingual and a local guy -- he lives with his family in Canyon Country. With these qualifications he seems to be a perfect fit for Peachland.

In the Hart District, three new principals have been selected and placed. Vickie Engbrecht will be staying at Canyon High and from what I hear, the Canyon parents are pretty happy with that. At Placerita Junior High, Mr. Rob Gapper will taking on the principal's job.

Gapper lives in the canyon and his boys have attended Newhall Elementary, Placerita Junior High and Hart High. He was an active Newhall parent and was selected to serve as Site Council chairman. He comes to Placerita from Hart High, where he leaves his job as assistant principal. Prior to that he was the A.P. at Valencia High and Placerita Junior High. All I can say about this appointment is that it is about time. Gapper should have gotten the job years ago. He will be a great asset to that middle school.

Gary Fuller has admitted that he has big shoes to fill by the retirement of Laury Strauss, the former principal at Hart High. I don't know much about Mr. Fuller except that he comes from the El Tejon District where he served as superintendent. I'm sure the school board had more information than that, and I wish him well. I'll be sure to look him up when school starts.

My only comment on this appointment is "What happened to Ruth Port?" She was (and is) an excellent assistant principal. The teachers seem to like her; she has been very visible on the Hart campus as well as with extra-curricular activities; and I have, unfortunately, seen her in action when it comes to disciplining students. She's one classy lady and an effective administrator, and I hope the Hart District hasn't lost a major asset by not appointing her as principal.

Both school boards and the superintendents had some big decisions to make during the summer. On the whole, they did a great job. But remember, especially in my little corner of the valley, there is still some major work to be done. Hart needs the auditorium repaired (they're working on it!), and it would be nice to see the administrators move out of their trailers and back into a building soon. At Newhall, multi-track is coming, and we need to pass a school construction bond.

I'm ready to sign up. Are you?

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Patti Rasmussen's commentaries appear in The Signal on Saturdays.

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