CANYON CITY – School is back in session this week for students of Grant School District No. 3 where there have been a few changes in administration.
Curt Shelley is the new district superintendent, replacing Mark Witty who took on Baker School District’s superintendent position.
Ryan Gerry has taken the helm as Grant Union’s new principal, and Kim Smith is the new principal of Humbolt Elementary.
Andrea Combs is in her third year as Seneca School’s head teacher.
She’s been teaching at Seneca School since 1998 — she also attended the school as a child — and taught for one year prior to that at Mt. Vernon Middle School.
Seneca’s kindergarten through sixth grade school has two teachers, Combs and Kris Metcalf, along with three support staff.
“The small staff makes it a tight community,” Combs said. “Our parents are a major part of that caring community.”
She said they are focused on targeting instruction to improve state test scores, and moving forward, learning from the strengths and weaknesses from last year’s data.
Combs said they also provide learning experiences, such as trips to Fossil and the Hancock Field Station, to “broaden the horizons of our students.”
“We want to help them see where they can be in the post-K-through-12 education,” she said.
Combs and her husband, John, have a son and daughter who attend Grant Union.
Kim Smith has worked for the district for 17 years.
She started teaching at Mt. Vernon Middle School and has filled a variety of roles over the years, including district diagnostician, district testing coordinator and director of special education.
She said she enjoyed working in the different positions with those who assist students in reaching their potential.
“Our team’s already worked on a shared vision,” she said. “We want to increase student academic growth, strengthen social skills and boost overall school morale. We’re looking forward to working with families. We realize their assistance at home makes the biggest impact with the students’ overall success at school.”
She and her husband, Brent, have two daughters who attend Grant Union.
Ryan Gerry spent his education career at Prairie City School District 4, his alma mater, teaching elementary through junior high students, serving as athletic director, and three years as superintendent-principal.
He said he’s looking forward to getting to know the students and parents at Grant Union.
“It’s important for parents to know our door is always open,” he said. “If they have any questions or concerns, they can feel free to stop by.”
He added, “We have a solid, dedicated staff to assist their students.”
He said he’s looking forward to helping the students progress to graduation, “prepared for the next step in life.”
Gerry’s wife, Samantha, teaches physical education and kindergarten through first grade music at Humbolt.
They have three children; two attend Grant Union and one attends Humbolt.
Shelley is in his 24th year in the education field.
He spent the past eight years at Grant Union, the last five as principal, before becoming superintendent.
Prior to that, he was principal at Culver High School for five years, and with that district for nine. He also taught at Summit High School in Bend for six years.
“I’m excited for the next chapter of my life,” he said.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, who is a Grant Union teacher and career coordinator, have two children, a son and daughter who attend Grant Union.
“We have a successful district and want to continue to offer a quality education with as many programs as the school budget will allow,” he said.
He said one goal of the district is to regain and prioritize programs such as career and tech, and welding, computer, metal and agriculture.
He said art and music also need to have a higher priority.
“We love kids,” he said. “I like to see kids grow and mature physically, socially, emotionally and academically.”
He added he enjoys seeing what the students have become when they complete school.
“It’s nice to have kids come back and share the experiences they’ve had related to their education here,” he said.