Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

The Crook County School District board of directors has narrowed its search to two candidates to oversee the district as school superintendent.

Sara Johnson, 56, of Klamath Falls, and Dandy Stevens, 50, of Silverton, were selected from a pool of 26 applicants. The public is invited to meet both finalists from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Monday at Barnes Butte Middle School. The board hopes to have made a selection before its April meeting.

They were announced as finalists at Monday’s board meeting.

“We had a very, very good response to our application (request), and we had really excellent resumes,” said Scott Cooper, board director. “It was daunting to go through those resumes and look at so many good, quality people. Our finalists are both longtime Oregon educators, and I am quite confident we are going to find an amazing superintendent.”

Both finalists are Oregon natives and are looking forward to the opportunity to join the small-town community of Crook County, they said.

“I just really feel at home in the Central Oregon area,” Johnson said. “That’s where I feel like I belong. Crook County fits with my skills, and I’m excited about he potential there. I grew up on a ranch, and I like that kind of rural Western feel that Crook County has.”

Johnson is ready to be back in the superintendent’s chair, she said, after spending the last two years as the director of assessment, equity and school improvement for Klamath County School District. Before that, she spent three years as superintendent of Sumner School District in Sumner, Washington, and four years as assistant superintendent and director of human resources in Lincoln County.

Stevens is the assistant superintendent at Silver Falls School District in Silverton, where she spent time as principal and assistant principal at Mark Twain Middle School and Silverton High School. Her 24 years in education include two years of teaching overseas in Guam and Honduras.

She received a journalism degree from University of Oregon and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Portland State University.

An Ashland native, Stevens is excited for the opportunity to live and work in a smaller school district with a family-friendly feel, she said.

“I like to work in small districts,” Stevens said. “There’s a different level of connection with students and families in small towns. Crook County really struck a cord with me because of the idea that when you begin to do the work, that (district is) small enough that you can actually see results, identify if it’s working and make adjustments.”

While she is happy in her position in a district she’s worked in for 15 years, it is time for a change as her two youngest children are getting ready to graduate high school, she said.

Stevens said she will excel in the highest level position in the district because she has not lost sight of the fact that the district serves the students and teachers.

“As you progress in your career (in education), you get more and more removed from the kids,” Stevens said. “It’s not hard to lose sight of why you do this, but I feel like I’ve kept a strong focus on how I can help kids in every aspect and at every level.”

Stevens and her husband enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle, which would be a perfect fit in Crook County, she said.

“I’m really impressed with the process the board has engaged in because they have been very thorough, which is allowing me to think about if I would be a match for the community,” Stevens said. “They are going to end up with the right person, regardless of who they pick.”

The chosen candidate will start July 1, after the district’s superintendent, Duane Yecha, retires at the end of the school year. Yecha announced his retirement in October 2017.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, acolosky@bendbulletin.com

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