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August 25, 2005
By DAVID R. MILLION Community World Staff Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
Students won't look for their lockers, classrooms or teachers at Union Public Schools' newest elementary for another year, but the district has named the school's first principal.
She is Karen Vance, a former Jenks Public Schools assistant superintendent and Broken Arrow teacher.
Vance will continue this school year as principal at McAuliffe Elementary School , 6515 S. Garnett Road , and train her replacement for the 2006-07 school year.
Although no one has been named to fill that spot, the board recently approved the transfer of Briarglen Assistant Principal Kim Whiteley to McAuliffe.
One of Vance's first duties as principal of the new school was a fun one, she said.
"I got to pick Oklahoma Red as the exterior brick the other day. I like the color, and it goes along with Union 's color scheme," she said.
Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Jarod Mendenhall said the design and development stages of the school are completed, and Vance will help choose furniture, fixtures and equipment.
She will help make those decisions along with Mendenhall and Michelle Bergwall, the district's construction management director and former Flintco project manager. Flintco is building the new elementary.
Vance's main focus will be on staffing the new school for a Fall 2006 opening.
She will interview dozens of people to fill the more than 50 positions expected to be needed for school, which is known as Elementary No. 12 until the school board selects a name. That includes not just teachers, but all staff.
"For example, I'll work with Hassan Yekzaman, director of facility services in hiring our custodial staff," Vance said.
Mendenhall said hiring should start in the spring.
Vance said Union is fortunate to have Moore Elementary, the district's most recently opened elementary, as a model.
"Suggestions from the Moore teachers have been valuable and caused us to make specific design changes," Mendenhall said.
"They recommended we add a specific space for a computer lab, so we designed a classroom for that purpose. The teachers also recommended changes to the front office and entry areas, which have been redesigned to fit those needs."
Vance and Mendenhall will develop a committee to name the new school. Members will follow a board policy that lays out the process, which Mendenhall said will result in a name by spring.
The district's long-range planning committee will consider boundaries for the new elementary, said Mendenhall, chairman of the group made up of patrons from across the district. The group will meet throughout the school year and make a recommendation for redistricting to the board in March, he said.
It is too early to forecast the number of sites that will be affected by the redistricting, Mendenhall said, adding that he anticipates a full load of 600 students on opening day.
Vance started working in the Union district in 2000. She has been in education since 1978 and has taught in Broken Arrow and in Jenks, where she also was a principal.
She was an assistant superintendent in Jenks from 1994 to 1997. During the next couple of years, she was director of professional development and product design for EMG Networks, then a division of Simon & Schuster in Scottsdale , Ariz. , before becoming a principal in Phoenix .
She has a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University and master's degrees in reading and language arts and educational administration from Northeastern State University at Tahlequah.
"I come from a family of teachers," Vance said. "My father taught in Broken Arrow , my mother in Jenks, and my grandmother was an Arkansas teacher.
Her husband currently teaches in Sperry.