Karl Paulson (left) will be the new principal at Forest Ridge Elementary while Tom Charboneau (right) will take the reins at Gubser Elementary (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

The 2019-20 school year will feature a pair of new principals at Keizer grade schools. 

Karl Paulson will be taking over the principal duties at Forest Ridge Elementary while Tom Charboneau — who was the principal at Forest Ridge for three years — heads to Gubser Elementary. 

Paulson has been principal in the Salem-Keizer School district since 2008 with his previous position coming with Pringle Elementary. 

“I have had multiple people already tell me how great of a school (Forest Ridge) is,” Paulson said. “The people I’ve met already, whether from the parent club or the staff, I get a really great vibe from. They’re excited about where they are at as a school and they are involved and engaged in the school community.” 

One of the aspects of the transition that Paulson is most excited about is the fact that Forest Ridge also has a charter school, called Optimum Learning Environment, located in the building. Paulson is fairly familiar with the charter system, as he was the principal of Valley Inquiry Charter School for four years (2008-2012).

“Getting back to a smaller school community definitely appeals to me, but I’m also looking forward to being back at a school that implements charter,” Paulson said. 

Paulson says that his administration style is open door and inclusive, which helps foster authentic relationships with the people in the building. 

“Relationships are what school communities thrive on, so I like to form relationships with students, staff, parents and other community members,” Paulson said. “In the school communities that I have been a part of, I feel like that has been a strength. People feel like they are heard and that their point of view is appreciated.”

Even though he is taking over at a new school, Paulson doesn’t plan to make any immediate changes. He would rather take time getting acclimated to the environment to see how he can best fit the needs of the people at the school. 

“Something I like to tell my staff when I come into a new school is don’t expect a quick answer on stuff initially, because that sometimes doesn’t end up being a good answer. I encourage processing stuff together and then seeing what we come up with,” Paulson said. 

“It’s kind of a guideline for new administrators not to go in and change a bunch of things right off the bat. Because we want to honor and get a feel for what is happening in the school community.”

This will be Paulson’s 12th year as a principal, but it will be his 29th year in education. He had spent the previous 17 years as a fifth grade teacher and library media teacher at multiple different schools. 

Paulson believes that the variety of roles that he’s had on the world of education gives him more rapport with teachers and staff. 

“It gives you creditability with your teachers, because you know what it’s like. I think that’s what people have appreciated about me in the past. Even though I may not be able to solve the issue right away, I can understand the issue or concern that they have,” Paulson said. 

Throughout the latter part of the summer, Paulson and Charboneau have been in contact on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. Charboneau has also been in touch with Dave Bertholf, his predecessor at Gubser. 

“There have definitely been open lines of communication between Karl, Dave and I to make each of our moves successful. We have been picking each other’s brains and have been trying to figure out the visions that they had and keep those good things moving forward,” Charboneau said. 

Charboneau is definitely entering the Gubser community at an exciting time. 

As a part of the $619.7 million bond measure, Gubser will have a new cafeteria and kitchen, as well as three new classrooms, which are scheduled to be ready in time for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. 

With the new classrooms, Gubser will no longer be reliant on the use of portables. 

The bond also covers several building improvement projects that include HVAC upgrades, a replacement of partition walls and gymnasium upgrades.

“The construction and the bond work has created great opportunities for kids. I like that the whole school will be under one roof,” Charboneau said. “There will be whole classes and grade levels that will get to eat lunch together now, which wasn’t possible before they built the new cafeteria.”

“There are a lot of really good things going on to support the students.”

Similar to Paulson, Charboneau emphasized how important relationships are at the school that he’s at. 

“I’m definitely a student-first principal. I want to do what’s best for them. I understand the vision of the district,” Charboneau said. “As far as the vision for Gubser, I still want to see what that is so I can best meet the needs of the students.”

“It all starts with relationship building, both with the staff and the students, as well as with the parents and the community. That is definitely a big part of laying the foundation.” 

With the start of school coming early next month, Charboneau is greatly looking forward to hit the ground running. 

“I’m super excited to join the Gubser community. Ever since I came to Salem-Keizer I have always heard great things about (Gubser). There’s definitely some legacy there that I am excited about joining.”