Prominent principals retiring, and others changing locations

As the academic school year comes to a close several changes are in the works in the Cache County School District. School construction projects are wrapping up and several prominent educators are retiring. Additionally, more than half a dozen schools will have new principals in the district.

After 33 years as an educator, and a decade as the principal of Wellsville Elementary, Cody Dobson is retiring. Craig Ashton, Chief Academic Officer and Director of Elementary Education for the Cache County School District, calls Dobson an amazing principal.

“He has a streak of resident cowboy in him, with a calm demeanor that endears students, teachers and parents alike,” says Ashton. “His professional strength is in his ability to raise student achievement and get things done.

“As a principal of Wellsville Elementary, he has become famous as the leader of the Wellsville Mile. Thousands of children have participated in this annual event. He has approached it like everything else by humbly saying, ‘It is always about the kids.’ He will be missed by all.”

Dobson has been involved with the Cache County School District for a long time. He has been involved with multiple middle schools, elementary schools, and spent a significant amount of time with Cache High.

Chief Information and Technology Officer Tim Smith says Dobson, “was instrumental in helping us move out of Wellsville Elementary last year and into Willow Valley when we converted that into an elementary school.”

Current River Heights Elementary School principal Glen Harris will be replacing Dobson at Wellsville Elementary School. Stephanie Adams will replace Harris as the new principal at River Heights. Adams has previously been serving as an assistant principal at North Cache Middle School.

Another principal that has been instrumental in change affecting her school is Kathy Toolson. She, too, is retiring after a 30 year career in public education and a long stint at Sunrise Elementary School.

“If you look at that school’s test scores they do very well,” Smith exclaims. “She’s leaving a hole for us there, too. She actually considered retiring last year but that didn’t work out. She went an extra year for us.”

Smith says that extra year has proved extremely valuable as Sunrise Elementary has been undergoing some physical changes and an expansion.

“They are adding four classrooms and a gymnasium,” Smith continues. “It has been good to have her steady hand at the wheel for the last year.”

“Kathy has been a remarkable educator,” Ashton adds. “I found great pleasure in working with her…she has always embraced change as an opportunity for Sunrise to continue to improve. This is impressive, since Sunrise is already one of our top performing schools in the district.

“I have admired her ability to lead the Dual (Language) Immersion program at Sunrise. She has helped it to grow and develop into a meaningful program which hundreds of children currently enjoy. She will be missed.”

Derek Beer will replace Toolson as principal of Sunrise Elementary. Beer will be coming from the Davis School District and has seven years of experience as a principal in a school with a Dual Language Immersion program.

One other notable retirement is at the district level: Craig Ashton is leaving after 10 years with the district. Ashton joined the district after retiring from being an assistant superintendent in Idaho.

“He came in first as the Curriculum Director,” Smith explains. “His latest position has been Chief Academic Officer and Director for Elementary Education. He has really helped shepherd the district through some major curriculum initiatives, as well as all our new construction projects that related to our elementary schools.”

Ashton’s positions will be filled by several different people. In addition to Smith’s other duties, he will assume the responsibility of Chief Academic Officer. Gary Thomas, who has been the principal at Millville Elementary School, will now become the Executive Director of Elementary Education in the district. Additionally, Kirk Jenkins, who has been over the district’s curriculum instruction and assessment, will move to Student Support Services.

Brady Johnson will be replacing Thomas at Millville Elementary School. Johnson is coming from the Bonneville School District in Idaho Falls, has eight years of previous experience as an elementary school principal and an additional six years of experience as a 6th grade teacher in the Jordan School District.

Other principal changes include Lance Robbins, who will become the new principal at Heritage Elementary replacing Alden Jack. Jack has accepted the assignment to be the new principal at North Park Elementary School. The previous principal at North Park, Sharyle Shaffer, will become the principal of the new Cedar Ridge Elementary School.

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