One veteran to replace another in high school principal changeover

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home High School Principal Pat Stineff will retire at the end of the school year, and Assistant Principal Keith Winslow will assume the post.

Stineff became principal in 1997 – when most students graduating this year were 3 to 4 years old.

She started teaching in 1977 at Central High School, where she taught English and Social Studies for 17 years. She was a vice principal for three years.

She could have retired five years ago, she said. The district’s finances convinced her that this was the time.

“I could see the writing on the wall,” Stineff said. “They needed to cut somebody at the high school.”

Stineff is going to continue working a couple of days each week coordinating the Accessing College Today program, she said. The program, which has about 36 students signed up, allows students to hold off on graduation and the district will pay their tuition for college classes at Linn-Benton Community College while receiving some funding for each of those students.

Students receive support from the district and LBCC, Stineff said, while earning college credit.

It’s an opportunity for district students and for home-school students, she said.

While still working part time, she has plans for her spare time.

“I’m going to travel and read and quilt and follow my grandchildren’s sports,” Stineff said. “And garden and clean the house and paint it. I have a list.”

Stineff has most enjoyed the students and staff at SHHS, she said. “I love high school kids anyway. What you see is what you get with our kids. I’ve really just enjoyed the kids tremendously. I couldn’t ask for a better staff. They care about the kids. They’re professional. They work hard for us, and they work together well.”

She’s going to miss the staff and students, Stineff said. “I just appreciate the fact I’ve been able to be here for 15 years. I like the town. It’s a great place.

“One of the highlights was getting this school rebuilt. That was a lot of fun.”

Stineff has been concerned about who would take her place when she retired, she said, and she’s happy it will be Winslow, who will “do a great job. I was very much in favor of having him take my place. I care about this school, and I want it to do well.

“I know he’ll do a good job, and I’m not worried about it anymore.”

Winslow said he’s “excited” by the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We have a really good staff. We’re in the process of continuing what we started with our PLCs (Professional Learning Communities).”

The high school is starting a Positive Behavior Instruction System, which is already in place in other district schools, he said. The school has a lot of positive things going on.

“We have a group of the kids starting some leadership activities in the school,” Winslow said. Some 52 freshmen, sophomores and juniors are preparing to take leadership roles in a number of areas, addressing everything from bullying and trash to the dress code. It’s all student-driven, and they’re committed.

He also is excited about the ACT program and the GEAR-UP program, which provide opportunities for students to access college, especially those who couldn’t afford it before.

“I just wrote a letter to the staff the other day,” Winslow said. The school has had some tough things this year, but “we’re going to move forward.”

He reminded staff members that they’re giving students memories they’ll cherish the rest of their lives, and most of the time, 95 percent of the time, everything goes smoothly. Most of the students are respectful and responsible. And that’s what the school needs to focus on.

“We have a great staff and a great student body that wants to continue to see some positive change,” Winslow said.

He noted that student referrals are way down, and students are reporting how relaxed everything is in the hallways.

Winslow came to Sweet Home in 1981 to take a teaching post at Oak Heights Elementary School. He taught fourth through sixth grades for 18 years and then went to Crawfordsville for two years, serving half-time as a teacher and half-time as principal. He moved back to Oak Heights and served as principal for eight years before spending the last three years as assistant principal at the high school.

He taught for awhile in South America prior to coming to Sweet Home, he said. He decided to move to Sweet Home while visiting his brother here and learning that the district had an opening. He applied and was hired immediately.

“(Stineff) is a great mentor to me even though I’ve been a principal too,” Winslow said. “It’s different at the high school. We get along very well, and we think a lot alike. I’m excited because she’s going to be here next year. I’m grateful she’s going to be here,” and he plans to pick her brain while she’s here.

“We’ve had three kids go through high school here,” he said. “It’s been the greatest experience for all three of them. The staff has done very well. I’m convinced that this school system we have here in Sweet home – the kids are fortunate to be here.”

Winslow said he may be biased, but he believes this community is a great place to raise children.

Other administrators in the district will shuffle positions as well.

The district will not fill the second assistant principal position at the high school. Tim Porter had served as half-time assistant principal and half-time curriculum director. A teacher handled the position’s traditional athletic director duties.

Next year, Porter will serve as a single assistant principal full time and will also handle curriculum director duties, said Supt. Don Schrader. A teacher on special assignment (TOSA) will work full time handling athletic director and student behavior duties. The TOSA will not evaluate employees and will not be an administrator.

A TOSA will also assist at the junior high while Junior High Assistant Principal Dave Goetz takes over as supervisor for maintenance and transportation, also serving as the district’s director of human resources. Maintenance Supervisor Ron Andrews retired earlier this year and Transportation Supervisor L.D. Ellison plans to call it quits at the end of the school year.

Goetz is going to be everywhere, Schrader said. “We’re going to need help with athletics and the position at the high school.”

That’s all part of being in human resources, Schrader said.

Foster principal Glenna De-Souza will pick up .2 full-time equivalent as Title I director from Connie May, who will work .2 FTE next year. May is working .4 FTE this year.

Winslow also will serve as the district’s English language learning director next year.

Ryan Beck resigned from Hawthorne, and Derek Barnhurst resigned from Oak Heights. The district has not yet hired anyone to replace them.

Elena Barton will continue to split her time between principal at Holley and student services director.