Van Fleet announces leave

Principal Andy Van Fleet will officially assume his position at Fowler on July 1, according to Supt. Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith.

Photo courtesy of TTSD

Principal Andy Van Fleet will officially assume his position at Fowler on July 1, according to Supt. Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith.

By James Favot, Copy Editor

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Van Fleet’s departure from Tigard was officially announced by Superintendent Dr. Sue-Rieke Smith on June 10. After four years at Tigard High, Principal Andy Van Fleet will officially assume the principal role of Fowler Middle School come July. He will be taking the place of former Fowler principal Daniel Busch.

“I have always loved the energy level of middle school,” Van Fleet said, noting that he enjoys engaging with kids at the same age level as his own children. “I find their sense of humor and their energy invigorating.” Despite his commitment to helping students succeed at Tigard High, Van Fleet says his actual dream is to be a middle school principal.

“The reality is that once this Fowler position fills, it might be five or ten years before another principal shift opens up,” Van Fleet said. “I absolutely love Tigard High so much, but having the opportunity to go to a middle school that directly feeds this high school just made all the sense in the world.” One of Van Fleet’s main goals as principal of Tigard High was to aid as many students as possible in getting them on track for graduation. Now, as principal of Fowler, he hopes to build that foundation for success earlier on in students.

“It’s good from a professional lens,” Van Fleet said. “I get to learn and support at another level.” He primarily wants to help prepare students for the transition from eighth grade to freshman year.

The news that Van Fleet was looking to land the new job came as a surprise to some of the administration at Tigard.

“I think he really liked it here,” receptionist Shari Balcom said. “But he wanted a job with less night-time commitments.” (Another reason Van Fleet took the position at Fowler is so he can spend more time with his family at home.) Still, everyone in the main office is excited to see Van Fleet pursuing his career goals.

“I’m happy for him,” Head Secretary Rachel Edwards said. “I really am.”

Van Fleet believes the new principal, whoever it may be, shouldn’t have much trouble adjusting to the role given that the rest of the school will also be adjusting to a brand-new building. “[The new principal] will get to set our entire function up the way that they see fit, and that makes a lot of sense,” he said. The district is still actively looking for a replacement for Van Fleet. TTSD HR Director Debbie Ebert held a meeting at Tigard High during lunch earlier this week to gather student input on the hiring process. (See related story, “Q&A with Debbie Ebert”, for more info.)

“I’ll be excited to see who we get,” Edwards said. “The district has been quick to jump on that.” The new principal at Tigard could small or big changes to the school, depending on who fills Van Fleet’s shoes and what sort of ambitions they have for the school. The staff and student body will not only be returning to new classrooms next year, but new leadership as well.