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SK's Willson new principal at Poulsbo Elementary

"POULSBO - Jerry Willson will be the principal at Poulsbo Elementary this year. Willson will serve as interim principal for the 2000-2001 school year, while a committee composed of parents, teachers and administrators search for someone to fill that job permanently. The Poulsbo Elementary's principal's position became open when Linda Hughes left after three years. Hughes left to become a principal in Kirkland. Willson, 55, has 32 years of experience in education, 29 of them in the South Kitsap School District. He has been a teacher, a principal at three different schools, and the assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction for the South Kitsap district. Willson retired earlier this year, but retirement lasted barely a month before he got a call from North Kitsap's superintendent, Eugene Medina. He asked if I'd be able to fill in, Willson said from his new office Monday. It filled my needs. It's a great opportunity. The previous Friday, Willson had spent time on a work party installing new playground equipment at Poulsbo Elementary. Several parents were there to help, and that's one thing that Willson said attracted him to the district. We get a lot of support from the parents (at Poulsbo Elementary), Willson said. That was just one of the positive aspects of the district, including an experienced, professional staff, advancements in curriculum, and a respected superintendent. All of those things put together make for a nice assignment, Willson said. Some things remain the same, he added. Kids are kids, whether in the south end or the north, he said. As much as he was challenged by the curriculum role with South Kitsap, Willson said, it was his time as a principal he enjoyed most. The most productive and happy days of my life have been as a principal, because of interaction with kids, parents and teachers. Pretty much everything I do is with people. Willson lives in Port Orchard and will commute to Poulsbo every day for work - not bad, compared to some people's commute, he said. His wife, Sunny, teaches at Olalla Elementary school. Willson graduated from Seattle Pacific College in 1968 and began his life in education as a music teacher. Willson has been a principal of three schools. He was a planning principal, helping both Burley Glenwood and Frank Givens Elementary school get off the ground. He also spent five years as principal of Hidden Creek Elementary School in South Kitsap. Then, Willson said, he was lured to be the interim assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction in South Kitsap. After being told he'd stay on the job until Thanksgiving, Willson kept accepting requests to stay on until Christmas, the end of the year, and eventually, on a permanent basis. Now he finds himself taking another interim position. He's happy to do it. Buildings are the best jobs. You get to deal directly with the kids, and that's pretty powerful, he said. Willson's most immediate task is to find a vice-principal to replace Tony Bainbridge, who moved on to become an assistant principal job at Poulsbo Junior High. He is also meeting with staff members and parents, something he wants to continue to do all year. I'm always willing to listen and share, Willson said. The biggest adjustment will be getting to know the area and the expectations people have here, he said. Willson added, The big thing is getting it kicked off the ground. Once the kids get here, everything will fall into place. "

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