Principal leaves Pendleton High School for larger district

<p>Pendleton High School pricipal Tom Lovell has taken a position as principal at Oregon City High School and will finish out the school year in Pendleton.</p>

After nine years as Pendleton High School principal, Tom Lovell is heading to the school where he got his start in education.

Lovell will start in the fall as principal of Oregon City High School, where he spent four years as an English teacher before joining the Pendleton School District as a ninth grade English teacher in 1991.

Lovell said he wanted to teach at a larger district — OCHS has more than 2,300 students, while PHS has about 900.

“I love what I do, this is what makes leaving Pendleton hard,”?he said. “I love our school, I love our staff. I wouldn’t want to leave here for something worse.”

Teachers say they will miss Lovell for his commitment to developing relationships with students.

Spanish teacher Kathryn Youngman said Lovell calls students into his office not just when they are in trouble, but to see how their classes are going and to ask what the school can do to help them learn. For example, he makes sure students who do not have computer access at home are able to use the computer lab at school.

He sends teachers weekly emails highlighting when students do well in sports or other activities and to let teachers know if there is a student who is struggling and might need help, said English and civics teacher Shannon Ables.

“For some kids, it’s just saying ‘Hi,’ — for some kids it’s encouraging them to take a harder class ... sometimes it’s helping them deal with a personal problem,” Lovell said. “The best thing (some students) have going for them is coming to our school and having someone here who really cares about them.”

Lovell said it is easier to motivate students to reach their full potential if they know school staff care about them and understand their struggles and aspirations. And pushing students to do their best is important to Lovell.

Since starting at PHS, he has added an honors diploma, two advanced placement classes and seven dual credit courses that allow students to earn college credit through Blue Mountain Community College by taking PHS classes.

Of his 22 years with the school district, Lovell spent seven as a ninth grade English teacher, and five years as PHS assistant principal — during one of which he was also athletic director.

The school district is searching for a replacement to start next school year. Lovell made $105,500 a year and the district will pay his successor $104,000-$105,500, said PSD director of business services Michelle Jones.

Lovell, 54, is moving to Oregon City with his wife Leslie. They have four children, all of whom graduated from PHS.

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Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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