NOON UPDATE: Pendleton High names new principal

The Pendleton School District on Thursday hired a new principal for Pendleton High School.

Melissa Sandven, currently the principal at Rainier Junior/Senior High School in Rainier, will take the position.

According to a press release, Superintendent Chris Fritsch said “Ms. Sandven brings a wealth of experience to the district, from working in a smaller district to working in the largest district in our state. She has a strong background in curriculum and instruction and will be a positive addition to our team.”

Rainier’s secretary said Sandven was on a school field trip to China and was unavailable for an interview, but Sandven volunteered some biographical information about herself on the Rainier website.

According to the website, Sandven graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and teacher’s certification from Whitman College in Walla Walla before moving to Albuquerque to get a master’s degree in Latin American studies and educational administration certification from the University of New Mexico.

She would start her educational career in Albuquerque, becoming a teacher and then an administrator while starting a family.

Looking to be closer to her family in Oregon, Sandven took an assistant principal position at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, a school with an enrollment of about 2,000 students.

She stayed in an urban environment for her next job as the principal of Hosford Middle School in Portland, a school that housed dual language immersion programs in Mandarin and Spanish.

Sandven eventually moved on to Sandy High School, where she was named the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, two subject matters she was interested in.

She’s been the principal of Rainier Junior/Senior High School since 2014 and she’s currently earning her doctorate at the University of Oregon.

Rainier Junior/Senior High School has an enrollment of 480 students between the grades 7-12. According to the Oregon Department of Education, Rainier’s high school had an 86.3 percent graduation rate in 2016-2017 school year.

Fritsch said there were three finalists for the job, and those three candidates participated in multiple activities during the selection process. In addition to their formal interview, candidates met with the district administrative team, two different staff groups, a student leader group, parents group, went on a district tour and met individually with Fritsch.

The process was a slight departure from the last time Pendleton High School hired a principal, when the district held an open house for the finalists and introduced them to the public. In an interview, Fritsch said he used a process he was familiar with from his time as an administrator in Longview, Washington.

Sandven replace Principal Dan Greenough, who submitted his resignation letter in January but has not commented publicly on his decision to leave a job he’s held for five years, although Fritsch relayed that Greenough was looking for “new opportunities.”

That new opportunity was revealed on Monday, when the Hermiston School District announced Greenough as the new principal of Desert View Elementary School.

Sandven will be expected to maintain Pendleton High School’s strong academic performance, which has resulted in good marks in the state report card and a 94.7 percent graduate rate in 2016-2017.

Sandven will start her new job July 1.

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