The 2022-23 school year is quickly approaching, and this is an opportunity to make administrative shifts to best serve the needs of all of our students throughout the district. Please see the list below of transfers and new hires throughout the district.
Chad Christensen – Principal, Hayesville Elementary
Chad Christensen will be the new principal at Hayesville Elementary School and is excited to join the team to build positive, supportive relationships with students, families, staff, and the community. Christensen started his teaching career in Las Vegas in 1997, then taught in Japan and Lake Oswego before joining Salem-Keizer in 2012 as an instructional coach at Whiteaker Middle School. Since then, Christensen served as assistant principal at Straub Middle School and Claggett Creek Middle School before switching roles to become the data coordinator for the district in 2021.
Joni Pruett – Principal, Lamb Elementary
Joni Pruett has been an educator for 15 years. She started as an elementary instructional assistant and joined SKPS in 2010 as a bilingual teacher. Pruett has served elementary schools as a program associate for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. Most recently she has served as assistant principal at Chavez and Keizer Elementary schools. She is convinced that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished for our students when educators come together in support of one another.
Hugo Valdez Jimenez – Principal, Four Corners Elementary
Hugo Valdez Jimenez started his teaching career in Mexico in 2004. After being a classroom teacher in his home country, Hugo decided to participate in the International Visiting Teachers program in 2009 and began teaching in Salem-Keizer Public Schools with the Migrant Summer School program. After that, Valdez Jimenez became a bilingual teacher at Swegle Elementary School. In 2018, Valdez Jimenez joined the Elementary Curriculum Department as the literacy program associate. Most recently, Hugo has been serving as assistant principal at the EDGE Elementary program and Highland Elementary School. His experiences from two cultures bring a diverse perspective to anything he does to support students, teachers, and families.
Samantha Miley – Principal, Richmond Elementary
Samantha Miley has been an educator and administrator in the district for nine years. Most recently, Samantha has been in the role of assistant principal at Richmond and Keizer elementary. Throughout her career, Miley has been an advocate for early childhood education and helping students feel safe and welcomed in their schools. She understands the importance of family and community involvement within the school system to ensure student success.
Geoffrey Wetherell – Principal, Englewood Elementary
Geoff Wetherell has been an educator for over 20 years, with the last 12 years serving as an elementary school principal. Wetherell has worked at schools in Beaverton, Coos Bay, and Coquille during his career, with several years serving as a director of special education as well. He believes that all children have a right to experience growth and success. Wetherell values a team approach to building a strong school community where all people can feel supported while striving to achieve their goals.
Risa James – Principal, Salem Heights Elementary
Risa James has been an educator for more than 20 years. Most recently, James has been in the role of an instructional mentor at Weddle Elementary School. Throughout her career, James has been an advocate for making students feel welcome and valued while maintaining high expectations for all students. She understands and believes in the power of collective efficacy within a school community.
Erin Hanson – Principal, Gubser Elementary
Erin Hanson grew up in the Willamette Valley and began her teaching career 18 years ago on the north Oregon Coast. Hanson is coming to Salem from the Klamath County School District, where she has served as vice principal at Henley Elementary for the last six years. Hanson is passionate about working with children and forming meaningful relationships with students, staff, and families.
Cherice Cochrane – Principal, Keizer Elementary
Cherice Cochrane has been the principal at Lamb Elementary School for the past five years. Before becoming a principal, Cochrane taught at Myers Elementary in the Dual Language program. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in education through the University of Oregon. Cochrane is thrilled to join the Keizer team and is excited to begin building relationships throughout the community.
Tom Charboneau – Principal, Scott Elementary
Dr. Thomas Charboneau has been a principal with SKPS for six years and was an assistant principal for four years prior in Southern California. Throughout his career and his research, Charboneau has been focused on early literacy skill acquisition and improving instruction. Charboneau is excited to bring his strengths as he joins the Scott community.
Miranda Pickner – Principal, Kennedy Elementary
Miranda Pickner has worked as an elementary teacher and administrator for the past 23 years in a variety of diverse educational settings. During the first part of her career, she taught students in Head Start up to 6th grade. After teaching, Pickner spent nine years as a K-8 school principal within the Silver Falls School District. Most recently, she has served as the assistant principal at Scott Elementary School. She is passionate about supporting the educational journey of staff and students.
Kristi Auvinen – Assistant Principal, Chavez Elementary
Kristi Auvinen has been with Salem-Keizer Public Schools for 21 years. She spent 17 years teaching at Clear Lake, Lamb, and Keizer, and is currently the behavior specialist at Washington Elementary School. As an assistant principal, Auvinen is committed to supporting a positive staff culture and building relationships to improve the mental well-being and academic progress of the students she serves.
Maribel Peña – Assistant Principal, Keizer Elementary
Maribel Peña was born, raised, and completed most of her schooling and education in Mexico City. Peña began her career in Salem-Keizer in 2004 and graduated from the Bilingual Teacher Pathway at Portland State University. She has served students in various capacities, including bilingual reading specialist at Chavez Elementary School. Peña is a proud member of the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators and believes that the key role of education is to elevate students’ voices, offer rigorous opportunities for meaningful participation, and make decisions that provide equitable outcomes for students.
Jazmin Garcia – Assistant Principal, Scott Elementary
Jazmin Garcia started her teaching career with Salem-Keizer Public Schools and is currently pursuing her EdH at George Fox University. She was a bilingual classroom teacher at Auburn Elementary and later transitioned to Chavez Elementary, where she has been a bilingual and clinical teacher. She has a strong passion for bilingual education, building a strong school community, and is an advocate for all students.
Karisa Legg – Assistant Principal, Highland/Richmond Elementary Schools
Karissa Legg has been an educator for nine years, most recently in the role of an instructional mentor and reading specialist at Miller Elementary School. Legg is passionate about literacy instruction and the power/access it provides to students. She believes that school is meant to be a safe place and a home for all students and staff and is dedicated to providing the necessary support in order to make that a reality.
Amanda Johnson – Assistant Principal, Auburn Elementary
Amanda Johnson initiated her teaching career in Salem-Keizer Public Schools 19 years ago. She began as a bilingual instructional assistant at Lamb Elementary School and later became a bilingual teacher as well as a district instructional mentor. Johnson is passionate about bringing out each student’s greatest potential. Some of her strengths are to work diligently, creatively, and efficiently. She always maintains a safe and welcoming environment for all, while maintaining high academic standards for all students.
Erin Rodriguez – Assistant Principal, EDGE
Erin Rodriguez has been serving as the assistant principal at Straub Middle School. She will be moving to EDGE to support the administrative team as an assistant principal. She is passionate about bilingual education, instructional technology, and her experience in TAG, testing and student success coordination, instructional coaching, and AVID, will be a great support to the EDGE staff.
Middle school positions
Ricardo Larios – Principal, Stephens
Ricardo Larios has been a member of Salem-Keizer Public Schools since 2007. He is a graduate of North Salem High School, Chemeketa Community College, Oregon State University, and Willamette University. Larios has been an assistant principal at McKay High School for the past three years and has previously served as a teacher at Waldo Middle School. He is driven by the desire to create the safest and most inclusive learning environment for our students and is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the Stephens Middle School community.
Ingrid Ceballos – Principal, Waldo
Originally from Los Angeles, Ingrid Ceballos has served as an educator for 20 years. She earned her bachlor’s and master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District before moving to Oregon in 2006. She joined Salem-Keizer that same year as a bilingual teacher at Eyre Elementary and was hired as an instructional mentor at Richmond Elementary in 2016. In 2019, she joined the Four Corners community and has served as their principal since then. Ceballos is committed to fostering a strong sense of belonging for the students and communities and supporting staff to further develop their craft.
Rosa Díaz-Avery – Principal, Houck Middle School
Rosa Díaz-Avery is a bilingual and bicultural educator with 26 years of experience. She is committed to equity and to building sustainable systems and teams to support student growth and achievement. She is passionate about serving students, staff, families, and the community. Most recently, she has been serving as the assistant principal of Talmadge Middle School in Independence.
Christi Cheever – Assistant Principal, Parrish
Christi Cheever is a McKay graduate who started her career as a bilingual teacher at Kennedy Elementary. During her 10 years at Kennedy, she taught a variety of grade levels and developed a passion for equity and instructional leadership. Cheever served as an instructional coach at Hallman and Richmond and became principal at Highland Elementary in 2012. She enjoyed her time at Highland and loved working with the amazing community, after nine years she was ready to explore the world of middle school. Cheever is currently teaching Career Exploration/CTE at Parrish and she is excited to be joining the admin team as an assistant principal next year.
Gregg Hilker – Assistant Principal, Waldo
Gregg Hilker has been part of Salem-Keizer Public Schools for four years and is currently serving as an instructional mentor at Waldo Middle School. In addition, he spent nine years as an assistant principal at a public middle school in Orange County, California. Hilker enjoys serving and engaging within the community and actively works with a non-profit organization for families who need shelter and resources. Hilker is also passionate about establishing mentorship programs for students and coming alongside teachers to support them in doing what they do best. He is empathetic to the needs of students, teachers, the community and has a strong commitment to finding solutions to challenges.
Jordan Radke – Assistant Principal, Stephens
Jordan began his career in 2011 as an English language arts and AVID elective teacher at Stephens Middle School, where he also coached cross country. In 2015, he was hired as the instructional coach at Crossler Middle School where he worked with staff to continue to move instructional practices and schoolwide systems forward. Most recently he has been serving as the assistant principal at Timber Ridge School in the Greater Albany Public Schools. Radke is looking forward to coming back to Stephens and joining the administrative team to support staff and students.
Tessie Riddell – Assistant Principal, Walker
Tessie Riddell is a graduate of Salem-Keizer Public Schools and has been teaching since 2009. Ten of her teaching years were at Claggett Creek Middle School as a math teacher, and two years as the behavior specialist. She most recently served as an assistant principal for the 2021-22 school year at Sprague High School. Riddell lives in Keizer with her husband and two sons. She is a former volleyball coach at both the middle and high school level. Family and community is very important to Riddell to provide inclusivity and equitable opportunities for all. Riddell is excited to join the Walker community in a new position as an assistant principal. Go Wildcats!
High school positions
Robin Buckingham – Assistant Principal, South Salem High School
Robin Buckingham has been an administrator in Salem-Keizer Public Schools for the past five years. She began her career as an educator in McMinnville where she taught math, Spanish and social studies. She joined Salem-Keizer in 2008, teaching at Leslie Middle School before becoming an instructional mentor at Straub Middle School for two years. She returned to Leslie in 2017 to be the assistant principal where she has most recently been serving. Buckingham also supported the middle school level of the EDGE program for the 2020-21 school year. She is looking forward to joining the administrative team at South Salem High School.
Antonio Mercado – Assistant Principal, McKay High School
Antonio Mercado is entering his 13th year in public education. Most recently, he has served as the assistant principal at Central High School. Prior to that, he was a teacher in the Salem-Keizer Public Schools for 11 years. Mercado carries a strong belief that creating strong school cultures and focusing energy towards school improvement can have a tremendous impact on the community.
Lindsay Goodpaster – Assistant Principal, West Salem High School
Lindsay Goodpaster is a proud alum of Salem-Keizer schools, attending Keizer Elementary, Claggett Creek Middle School, and graduating from McNary High School. For the last ten years, she has dedicated her time giving back to the community in various roles as a Migrant Head Start teacher, middle school language arts teacher, AVID elective teacher, AVID Coordinator, and most recently as the behavior specialist at Claggett Creek Middle School. Goodpastor is deeply committed and excited to partner with students, families, staff, and the community to support the Titan vision so that all students are prepared to engage in a diverse world with confidence, self-worth, but most importantly to hold pride in who they are and what they give back to their community.
Josh Thorp – Assistant Principal, West Salem High School
Josh Thorp started his career in Salem-Keizer Public Schools 10 years ago as a math and AVID teacher at Straub Middle School. Most recently, he has been serving as a behavior specialist at the school, while also coaching football, volleyball, wrestling and track. Thorp was born in Salem but grew up in Northeast Brazil and he speaks fluent Portuguese. He is most excited to get to know the students and staff and continue to support and grow the incredible work that is happening at West!
Mari Vasquez – Assistant Principal, McKay High School
Mari Vásquez worked for Salem-Keizer for ten years, teaching English language arts and Spanish language arts as part of the Dual Language program, AVID Excel, English Language Development, and Spanish. During the last three years, Vásquez has served as an assistant principal in Woodburn. She is a passionate, student-centered educator, committed to the McKay community, and honored to collaborate with the Royal Scots team as they help each student, and one another, thrive!
David Wood – Assistant Principal, South Salem High School
David Wood will join the administrative team at South Salem High School beginning in the 2022-23 school year. Most recently, Wood has served as Principal at Stephens Middle School since 2019, successfully guiding Stephens’ re-validation efforts as an AVID National Demonstration School. Previously, Wood served as assistant principal at McKay High School, and began his career with SKPS as a social studies teacher and basketball coach at McKay in 2004. Wood lives in Salem with his wife, Cary, and four children who all attend Salem-Keizer schools.
Jesse Clayton – Assistant Principal, Sprague High School
Jesse Clayton has been with SKPS for 12 years, most recently serving as an assistant principal at McKay High School. Previous to McKay, Clayton was part of the administrative team at Sprague in the role of curriculum assistant principal. Clayton has also been a middle school assistant principal at both Leslie Middle School and Claggett Creek Middle school, as well as an instructional coach at Waldo Middle School. Clayton’s educational career began with her serving as a high school English and AVID teacher.
Charter school positions
Craig Harlow – Principal, Valley Inquiry Charter School
Craig Harlow has been an educator for more than 30 years, most recently serving in Corvallis School District. Throughout his career, Harlow has valued relationships and a strong school community. Harlow believes in making students feel welcome and valued while maintaining high expectations for all students. He promotes and models the power of collective efficacy within a school community.
Lizi Aguilar-Nelson – Elementary Level Director
Lizi Aguilar-Nelson started her career with Salem-Keizer Public Schools 32 years ago as a bilingual instructional assistant. In 1994, she became a bilingual teacher working at Grant, Swegle, and Lee Elementary schools. After teaching in the classroom, she worked as an English language coach and became a certified GLAD and ELD trainer. After receiving her administrative license, she began her administrative career as the principal of Richmond Elementary and served that community for eight years. Aguilar-Nelson moved to Liberty Elementary and served as a principal for five years. And, two years ago, she is moved to her current role as the principal at Keizer Elementary. Aguilar-Nelson is committed to strong and robust instruction for all students while building partnerships with all stakeholders.
Jesse Leonard – MTSS Principal on Special Assignment
Jesse Leonard has served as an elementary school principal for 14 years, first at Gubser Elementary and then most recently at Kennedy Elementary. Prior to becoming a principal, Leonard worked at the middle school level as a teacher at Waldo and Houck and then an assistant principal at Walker Middle School. While at Kennedy, Leonard worked closely with his school staff in collaboration with the Oregon Response to instruction and intervention team to develop sustainable academic and behavior student support systems. Leonard is excited to continue this work as he supports principals and schools through a new MTSS role.