By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The way Wendy Roberts sees it, students end up in the principal’s office for failure to do one of two things: work hard or be nice.
Roberts is the new principal of Weddle Elementary School, taking over for of longtime principal Samantha Ragaisis who left for an out-of-district job opportunity at the end of the school year.
“As much as anything, the new curriculums we are instituting are about communicating ideas. We have to do that with compassion for each other and while enjoying the time we have productively,” Roberts said.
In other words, as a large piece of artwork in her new office announces, “Work hard and be nice.”
Roberts taught at Keizer’s Kennedy Elementary School for 15 years before accepting a position at Lake Labish Elementary School as an instructional coach. She served there until the school was repurposed and has been instructional coach at Kennedy and Weddle for the past three years.
Roberts felt called to be a teacher from a young age when her third grade counselor took her under his wing.
“He invited me to go to the first and second grade classrooms doing little guidance sessions, and I knew from that moment I was going to be a teacher or counselor,” Roberts said.
The move to administrative roles came after the former Lake Labish principal, Manuel Palacio, took note of her potential and urged her to investigate the opportunities therein. Weddle is her first principal assignment.
In addition to Roberts, the school is expecting a wave of new faculty and employees, but Roberts is looking at it as an opportunity.
“I’m looking forward to re-establishing relationships with the teachers I knew as an instructional coach and the families I got to know through that role, but this will be a time to figure out the Weddle Way. We’ll redefine it together and make the school a unique place for kids,” she said.
The Salem-Keizer School district is rolling out Smarter Balanced Assessments for all grades for the first time this year. The assessments are developed with an eye toward Common Core standards in math and language arts with the goal of increasing student achievement.
“The pressure is going to be felt all the way down to kindergarten because the standards are more rigorous than what we’ve done in the past,” Roberts said.
The students, she added, need to be the focus of every decision.
“I take education very seriously and it all boils down to what is best for the students. All students need to feel like they can set and achieve goals no matter what their background is,” she said.