By Kailey Fisicaro

The Bulletin

Bend-La Pine Schools has chosen two of its existing staff members to be principals for a new small high school and a yet-to-be-built elementary school.

Mike Franklin, who has served as assistant principal of Mountain View High School for two years, will become principal of one of the district’s new strand high schools. Kevin Gehrig, currently the principal at Pine Ridge Elementary School, will lead the new elementary, to be built with 2017 bond money in north Bend.

The small high school Franklin will lead will cater to individual students’ interests, focusing on interdisciplinary learning, internships and advanced credit options. Bend-La Pine previously referred tentatively to that new high school as the Academy, but now the school district is floating three other names, Franklin said.

Bend-La Pine Schools had initially announced Summit High School Principal Alice DeWittie would lead that school, one of two small high schools Bend-La Pine plans to open in leased space in northeast Bend in fall 2018.

But on Oct. 16, DeWittie announced she will leave the district at the end of the school year.

Franklin has spent more than 20 years in education, including as an assistant dean and teacher at The Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Hawaii for seven years. He also taught for 10 years in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington and at Summit High School in Bend.

“It has been a dream for me to get to be a part of building a new program that looks at learning differently for 15 years,” Franklin said Monday evening.

The school will focus especially on blended learning, which combines in-class time at a brick-and-mortar school with learning online, and design thinking. Although the term “design thinking” is a buzzword right now in education, the ideas behind it are something Franklin argues have long taken place in education.

“It’s a way in which we will teach kids to approach challenges,” Franklin said, to give students “future-ready skills.”

Highlighting design thinking in schools encourages students to develop “bigger skills such as grit, curiosity, self-control and growth mindset” so they are ready after high school for careers or higher education, Franklin said.

The school, expected to enroll as many as 200 ninth- and 10th-graders in fall 2018, will offer more flexible schedules for students who have a passion outside of school, such as a sport or even a business, and for students who may need extra support, for example if they have special physical needs, Franklin said.

Franklin wants the new strand high school to be well-connected with the community, but what will make the school and its culture a success are its teachers, Franklin said.

“All these programs don’t matter, innovative programs don’t matter, if we don’t have people who feel valued and who are passionate about what they’re doing,” Franklin said.

Bend-La Pine will likely open about five teaching positions for that school next month, according to Franklin.

Gehrig, who has led Pine Ridge Elementary for the past 12 years, will be involved in planning for the new elementary school this winter. He will serve as Pine Ridge Elementary School’s principal through the end of this school year.

The design of the new elementary, to be located at O.B. Riley and Cooley roads, will follow the same plan as the two-story Silver Rail Elementary School, with a few tweaks. Gehrig, in his 22nd year in education, said he’ll be sad to leave Pine Ridge, which he’s worked at since it opened in 2003. But he also feels fortunate for the opportunity to help open a new school in Bend-La Pine.

Other staff changes

Bend-La Pine Schools announced several other position changes to come to the district in the 2018-19 school year:

• Rochelle Williams, currently the principal at Rosland Elementary School in La Pine, will take over as principal at Pine Ridge.

• Julie Linhares, principal at Marshall High School, will replace Williams at Rosland Elementary.

• Sal Cassaro, the district’s director of secondary programs, will replace Linhares as the principal of Marshall.

Cassaro will also remain in his roles as district athletic coordinator and principal at STRIVE, for Students to Reach Individual Visions of Excellence, where middle- and high-school students can choose to attend if they’re struggling in their neighborhood schools. The district plans to combine Marshall High, its alternative school, with the STRIVE program, Cassaro said Monday evening. Bend-La Pine Schools will still have to find a replacement for Franklin as assistant principal of Mountain View High School. In addition to Franklin leaving Mountain View, its other assistant principal, Sean Corrigan, will leave the school district to head human resources in the Crook County School District.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,