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Verdict on new principal draws closer

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High school principal finalists tout qualifications

By Carol A. Clark

Finalists for principal of Los Alamos High School faced a crowd of some 30 people gathered in the Speech Theater Thursday evening to assess which would best lead the school.

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Local teachers and administrators comprised roughly 50 percent of the audience attending the “meet the finalists forum.”

Parents, school board members and community leaders  made up the remainder of the group listening to Sandy Warnock and Claudia Krause-Johnson speak.

Each finalist answered a set of questions related to education, leadership style and why they’re seeking the job.

“I know the community, I have experience with the community and I was very, very lucky to get experience at different school districts…” Krause-Johnson said. “I can bring this knowledge back to Los Alamos High School, which is a leader in New Mexico – let’s face it. So I think I’m qualified …”  

Krause-Johnson is a former assistant principal of Los Alamos Middle School and currently the principal of Alta Vista Middle School in Carlsbad.

Sandy Warnock has served as interim principal of LAHS since Grace Brown retired a few months ago.

“I’ve been here for 26 years so it’s my home,” Warnock said during an interview following the forum. “I have a passion for the kids and I have a passion for this school and I think I can inspire this already high-performing school,” Warnock said. “I love the staff and the students and who knows the community better than I do. If I’m chosen for this position it will be so exciting … We’re going to hit the ground running and finish what we’ve started.”

English teacher Whitney Pomeroy has taught at LAHS for 10 years. After listening to the finalists she said, “Stability – we’ve had so much upheaval in the last  few years. We need someone to lead us through all the changes we’re going to be going through such as Diamond Drive construction and the high school renovation is going to be huge,” Pomeroy said.

Margo Batha has taught at the high school for three years, lived in the community for 11, is a parent and a Warnock supporter.

“Sandy sets the bar high for us, yet it’s done well,” Batha said. “She’s tactful, she’s graceful, she sets the bar high but she’s reasonable and we don’t feel she’s asking us to do anything she wouldn’t ask of herself.”

Cindy Kindinger spoke highly of Krause-Johnson.

Kindinger was a social studies teacher at LAMS when Krause-Johnson served as assistant principal.

“As an administrator, one of Claudia’s biggest strengths is she is a great communicator,” she said. “She can work with all the stakeholders – students, parents and the community. It’s easy to work with the excelling students but Claudia is able to work well with students having difficulties and would parents who may be demanding. She’s able to find solutions so everyone is happy. Her range of experience would benefit our community.”

The ’Topper Advisory Council and PASS (Parents Advocating Student Success) co-hosted a community reception in the LAHS office building lobby following the forum.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt intends to select the new principal by April 15.