Lawyer, Albertson looking forward to new roles

Salem Community School Superintendent Jon Acton took an opportunity to introduce two familiar faces who are embarking on new positions heading into the 2020-21 school year. 

Acton introduced new Bradie Shrum Elementary Principal ,Jennifer Lawyer, and new Salem Middle School Principal, Kevin Albertson, at the Salem Community School Board’s regular meeting, June 8. 

Both Lawyer and Albertson have been employees at SCS for a number of years, but this will be their first time leading at these particular schools.

Acton said he is pleased with the leadership both will bring in their new roles. 

“We want to wish them congratulations and good luck,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting ride and we are here for them both, each and every step of the way.” 

Lawyer has been at SCS for nearly 16 years. She has worn many hats during that time, including teaching health and science, and counseling. She also served as both assistant principal and principal at Salem Middle School. 

She said she knows there will be new challenges for educators in the 2020-21 school year, but there is a team in place to meet those head on.  

“We have spent the past week trying to put together, what we think is the best fit for everyone,” Lawyer said at the school board meeting Monday (June 8). “We have made some adjustments based on teacher requests and also where we think peoples’ individual talents and strengths lie. We are excited about the team we are putting together and the plan is to continue on with the tradition that has already been established.”

The two biggest challenges right now are the coronavirus and getting to know the elementary students. 

“Learning student names for 860 kids is going to be a challenge, but I’m up for it,” she said. “COVID is likely the biggest challenge, but I also suspect that there will be a learning curve for building trust with families who might not know me yet, after working in the middle school level for 16 years.” 

For Albertson, who started teaching at SCS in 1998 as a middle school social studies teacher, the new position will be a homecoming of sorts. 

“I started my teaching career at Salem Middle School and now I have made it full circle in going back to the middle school,” he said. “I am looking forward to it.”

Albertson was assistant principal at Salem High School during the 2019-20 school year. 

“That experience last year opened my eyes to what the expectations are at the high school level,” Albertson said. “Taking that knowledge back to the middle school will help me know what is needed to prepare the kids for high school.”

There are still many questions that will need to be answered about the upcoming school year and what it will entail, but neither Lawyer or Albertson are backing down from the challenge.   

“The plan is to face all the new things we will be dealing with, having the best positive attitude we can,” Lawyer said. “We have to keep smiling and realize flexibility is paramount in terms of making sure we are successful.” 

Albertson agreed, “. . . There are a lot of challenges and uncertainty with all that’s going on, but I am looking forward to facing those.”

Albertson said his biggest challenge right now is working to fill vacancies. 

“We’ve had some people retire and some have transferred to different buildings,” he said. “We are looking for people who will be good fits. We want them to come in and help us keep the feeling of family that we’ve always had.” 

With both Lawyer and Albertson being long-time employees, seeing them both take leadership roles provides a sense of pride for school board members. 

Board President Rodney Brough said he loves to see employees climb the ladder. 

“Promoting from within shows a commitment to growth and promotion within Salem Community Schools,” he said. “Kevin has done a great job in his time as Salem High School assistant principal and deserves this opportunity. 

“Jen is a strong leader and with Clinton Blankenbaker and Nicole Colwell as assistant principals, it should be a great year at Bradie Shrum.” 

Lawyer said she knows having new faces on the Bradie Shrum administrative team may be hard for some parents, she wants them to know, all of their doors are open. 

“We would like to keep the lines of communication open between families and the school,” she said. “I want parents to know if they have a concern, they can reach out to us by phone or email so we can work together to grow.”

If school starts as scheduled, August 4 or 5 will be teacher work days and the first student day will be August 6. 

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