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Saari announces retirement

POULSBO — One of the main forces behind the North Kitsap School District’s attempt to improve its educational and instructional practices will be departing at the end of the school year.

Kingston High School planning principal Bruce Saari announced his retirement Thursday. It is effective June 30.

With his departure, the NKSD has been thrust into an unusual situation, said Gregg Epperson, NKSD executive director of student support services. With Roy Herrera also leaving NKHS and the Poulsbo Junior High interim principalship coming to a close at the end of the year, the district will be searching for three new principals at the secondary level during a time of great change.

Saari has been one of the chief architects of that change.

“I wasn’t intending just two years when I came here, but life happens to you,” Saari said, noting his affection for the work being done within the NKSD. “I just feel real gratitude at having had the opportunity to be involved in so many brilliant projects. This work represents the high point of my professional career and this stage is complete.”

As he finishes out this year, Saari will help guide the process into its next stages of completing the series of learning improvement days for teachers as well as starting the process of staffing NKHS and KHS for the 2007 school year.

“He’s a brilliant educator. He knows how teachers need to be teaching, he’s a real expert on that,” said school board director Ed Strickland. “They’ve been teaching teachers really how to teach more student-centered and that’s more important than SLCs.”

Saari joined the district in July 2004 and has since been instrumental in implementing significant curriculum alignment and instructional development work, Epperson said.

Upon his arrival, Saari jumped in as co-chair of the 9-12 instructional program task force and began working toward the goal of opening lines of communication between staff. As part of that work, he designed agendas for the 2005-2006 secondary learning improvement days, which focused on strengthening clarity within departments on the aspects of the changes ahead.

Though his work in the district was not exclusive to the SLCs, Saari led the group of teachers that developed the preliminary slate of three SLC designs.

That process will continue to evolve, Saari said, and he believes it is on course.

“I’ll tell you, those three (SLCs) are so robust ... that they will be outstanding SLCs in any high school,” Saari said. “It’s becoming clear to (parents and community) what great potential there is in this movement and I feel real satisfied at having been part of this.”

Saari plans to pursue retirement projects after returning to his family’s Hobart farm this summer. With 35 years of educational experience, he said he will still be available for educational improvement consultation.

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