Thoughts On Transitioning Schools

In case you haven’t heard, I have accepted a position as Principal at Orleans Elementary. This means that I will be stepping down as the Assistant Principal of Shoals Jr-Sr High School. I’m very thankful for my time at Shoals, and just as excited for the new opportunity that lies ahead of me at Orleans.

Three Things I’ll Miss At Shoals

1.  The families. The relationships that I’ve made over the years are invaluable. Watching the kids grow, and working side-by-side with their parents has been something that I will never forget.

2.  The staff.  I’m almost afraid to start mentioning names out of fear that I will forget someone here. But there are several that pop into my mind.

  • Mr. Springer and Dr. Nonte: These men stretched me as a leader in part because of their years of experience and in part because of their varying strengths. Their strengths were different than mine which made for a great team. Mr. Springer taught me that the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Dr. Nonte taught me about composure.
  • Larry Sherfick: This man is a life-long Jug Rock and was a vital part of the leadership team and a good friend. He wore a ridiculous amount of hats and did it with professionalism and enthusiasm. His ability to craft schedules is magical. I will greatly miss working along side of him.
  • Rueben Montgomery: He is the King of Technology at Shoals and is the man that turned me on to all things Apple. I have seen him transform Shoals Community Schools into one of the top technology schools in the area.
  • Debbie Howell and Judith Montgomery: These ladies were the ones who kept the office moving along, which was a difficult job during some days. They ALWAYS offered a sense of calm and a caring voice to our guests and staff. Every administrator understands how valuable a good secretary is. I was blessed to have two of them.
  • Pat Keefe: This lady is an OUTSTANDING teacher with the scores to prove it. Her decades of experience was something that I relied on multiple times. She has an understanding of grants like I have never seen. Her value to the Shoals Community School system is tremendous and has amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. Pat is truly the gem of the school.
  • Custodians. These were the men and women that did the dirty work. They kept the school looking outstanding. I wish I could tell you how many people walk into the building commenting on how new and clean everything looks. This is quite a feat for a building that was built in the 1960s.
  • Cafeteria Staff. Some of these ladies were serving up delicious food back when I was a student at Shoals. Day after day, they put their heart into every recipe. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. These ladies will certainly always have a piece of this man’s heart.
  • Maintenance staff: Whenever I needed something to be taken care of, Wayne Underwood, Roger Wraley, and company were on it. They work crazy amounts of hours at times to keep things running smoothly. These men have at times been underappreciated simply because they keep things running so smoothly.

3.  The memories. I have been going to Shoals since I was in 4th grade. This is where I played sports, met my wife, got my first teaching job, experienced life as an administrator, and crafted unique programs with local groups and government agencies.

Three Things I’m Looking Forward to at Orleans

  1. Meeting all the new people. I dropped by the office one day for three hours and was blown away by all the friendly faces. Cafeteria staff, custodians, parents, and students dropped by just to introduce themselves. The staff members that I have met so far have been completely courteous and professional.
  2. Their vision for the success of the school.  “Excellence, not perfection”. This was the phrase I heard used by both the administration and the school board multiple times when I was interviewing. It’s engrained throughout the culture of the school and the community. My wife and I have visited some of the local stores in town. Every where we go, people are proud to be a Bulldog. They are supportive of their school and its staff. They are involved in the school’s success…In making it excellent while understanding that perfection is not always realistic.
  3. Tremendous amounts of support. “Orleans is the kind of community where when someone says ‘let me know if I can help you in any way’, they really mean it”. That was one thing my boss told me during the interview process. Orleans really is known throughout southern Indiana for all of their community support. This is something that has become a huge asset in my mind.

So with all of this being said, I want to finish by thanking the Jug Rox for all of their love and friendship. I am looking forward to starting this new chapter with Orleans, and hope to make many more great memories as a Bulldog.

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About Chris Stevens

I'm an Elementary Principal, husband, father of three, and an imperfect follower of Christ. I have eight years experience at the Jr-Sr High level and 14 years experience speaking at various churches.
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