Newspaper Archive of
Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
April 26, 1995     Hells Canyon Journal
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April 26, 1995

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Page 8 Hells Canyon Journal April 26, 1995 Return to Rural Life: by Denis Norlander of the Hells Canyon Journal When B. J. Pell, principal- designate of Halfway and Richland elementary schools, moves from Denver to Pine Valley, she probably won't experience culture shock. "I spent the first 20 years of my life on my great- grandfather's peanut farm near Abilene, Texas. It's part of a community that is a little smaller than Halfway," she said last week. She was on a two-day visit to the schools for class visits and meetings with Principal Andy Koopman. Koopman is retiring at the end of this school year after 26 years in the district as principal. "The kids here are great, very friendly and mot at all disruptive," she observes. During her classroom vis- its, she especially enjoyed the "solid instruction" she ob- served in a "real hands on geometry class" taught by Karen Endersby in Richland. Pell was pleased with the "Math Their Way" program she saw in use at Halfway by kindergarten teacher Robin Zaccone. This teaching tech- nique provides concrete math applications using things like Brings Counseling Skills, Small Town Past farm," she recalls. It may be that the "wonder- fully solid background" she describes has influenced her management style. "Decision making needs to be collaborative and I also strive to be customer-service oriented," she says. "I see my customers as kids, their parents, teachers, staff and members of the commu- nity without kids," she adds. "It used to be that a p i- KINDERGARTEN CONFAB: Principal-designate B.J. Pell with Pell will be leaving a prin- cipal assignment at Lasley Elementary, a school in the Denver suburbs with an en- rollment of 800 students of varied ethnic, social and eco- nomic backgrounds. One nice difference she ex- pects to find here--children won't be going home to a situ- ation that places them in the at-risk category common in an urban school district. She also believes the trade- Photo by I~mlS Norlllnder HES kindergarten students. offbetween broader possibili- ties in a big city or being com- fortable and confident in a small community is worth it. "Growing up in a small com - munity gives you a real solid grounding; you know who you are.., you know everybody's parents. You end up with a foundation that lasts all your life and which allows you to go out into the world and feel confident, anywhere. My roots were the boundaries of t.lta the calendar and number of days in the school year to teach math to young children. "The reason that math broke down for a lot of us was that the instruction didn't pro- vide these concrete examples," says Pell, whose own teaching experience included speech pathology and work with spe- cial needs kids, language and speech at the secondary level, and counseling, in which she holds a Masters degree, pal had to be a in everything maintenance, finances, e!til- dren. It's difficult noW to be an expert in every required area but I know I can be one heck of a facilitator," she says. Surprising as it is, the newly-appointed principal will bring vast experience to school grounds maintenance. "On our farm, our family with three daughters and a few migrant workers moved a couple of hundred joints of ir- rigation pipe twice a day, ev- ery day to keep'those peanuts growing," she recalls. , One of the most difficult things about her new assign- ment, she acknowledges, will be following Andy Koopman. "It's always harder to take over from someone who's been Richland, OR I