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Johnstone named WHS interim principal

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By Bryan Marshall

An experienced leader has come out of retirement to become interim principal at Williamstown Jr./Sr. High for the rest of the 2009-10 school year.

Dave Johnstone of Edgewood will fill the position left vacant after Misty Buchanan was reassigned within the district.

The 55-year-old retired in September 2009 after spending 20 years as principal in four different schools in northern Kentucky.

“Even though it’s an odd situation to come in this close to the end of school, it’s not something that I don’t have any experience with,” Johnstone said. “I’ve been through the last two months of school as an administrator 20 times. I kind of know how this works.”

Johnstone served as a teacher at Taylor Mill Elementary, Turkeyfoot Middle School and Twenhofel Middle.

He also spent three years as principal at Southern Elementary, one year at Miles Elementary and four years at Kenton Elementary before spending the past 12 years as principal at Summit View Middle School.

Johnstone became familiar with Williamstown after being asked by the district to perform a third-party culture audit.

During the audit, he observed classes and talked to students.

“I really liked it,” Johnstone said. “The kids were nice and the staff was good. It was a great school. Then, there was the situation where Mrs. Buchanan departed and (Superintendent) Mrs. (Sally) Skinner called and asked if I’d (be interim principal). Since I’d seen a little bit and liked what I saw, I decided to do it.”

On his first day on the job April 5, Johnstone went into every classroom to introduce himself to students.

He said everyone seemed receptive to him.

Johnstone planned on meeting with the staff and going through the upcoming calendar to make sure the school is prepared for the remainder of the year.

“The first day has been great,” he said. “Everybody has been upbeat. It’s been a good attitude of there being a couple of months of school left and let’s finish it off right.”

“The biggest challenge is to make sure that we do these last few months of school right,” Johnstone said. “You have seniors who are in their last hurrah and you want to make sure you get it right for them. You don’t want them walking away with a bad taste in their mouths from the last few months of school. My number one priority is that the seniors have all the things they’re supposed to have and graduation and everything comes off like they’re supposed to.”

Johnstone will be paid a maximum of approximately $16,900 for his 47 contracted days.

Skinner said the district is pleased to be able to have Johnstone as interim principal.

“I think we’re very fortunate to find someone of the quality and caliber as Mr. Johnstone this close to the end of the school year,” she said. “Under his leadership, I feel like we’ll just move forward.”

The school’s site-based council will likely meet soon to discuss the principal position opening, said Skinner.

Johnstone said he has not decided yet if he would apply for the principal position because he is concentrating on the last two months of classes.

Skinner said she hopes to have a principal for the 2010-11 school year in place by July 1.