Beal hangs up education 'hats' in Grant District 3

<p>Kris Beal prepares to hang her hat as Grant Union assistant principal. After 24 years as an educator, she plans to spend much of her retirement enjoying time with family.</p>

JOHN DAY – In her 24 years as an educator, Kris Beal has worn many hats – including that of Math Wizard.

Beal, assistant principal and English teacher at Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, had her sights set on retirement more than a year ago.

“I’ve been very lucky because every morning I come to a job that I love,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every single day, and the reason I’ve enjoyed every single day is because of the kids.”

Beal, originally from Chicago, graduated from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., and received a master’s in elementary education from Southern Oregon State College, now SOU.

She and her husband Roy, who retired last year from the Forest Service, moved to Grant County “sight unseen” in 1988. She began teaching a combined first- and second-grade class at Seneca School, having previously taught in Meridian, Miss.

From her back yard in Mt. Vernon, she could see the Mt. Vernon School building, so after the district merged in 1990, sending those high schoolers to Grant Union, she requested a transfer. There she taught first grade, and later sixth-grade language arts and was TAG (Talented and Gifted) coordinator.

After she received her administrative license, the district asked her to become Grant Union’s assistant principal.

“I said, ‘Sure, I was in high school once,’” Beal recalled with a smile.

“I loved my job up here,” she said.

But her “dream job,” she said, came in 2004 when she became principal of Humbolt Elementary.

That’s when she donned the Math Wizard garb to quiz students in their arithmetic facts.

She also dressed up as a book character on Dr. Seuss Day each year and read to the students; most memorable were the Amelia Bedelia, Mr. Brown and The Funny Little Woman outfits.

Her office bulletin board is packed with pictures from her time at Humbolt, including drawings, cards and crafts that students have given her over the years. Also, this quote: “Surround yourself with people and things that make you smile.”

“If you ever feel bad, depressed or blue, just go to an elementary school – those kids will make you feel good,” she said.

Her last year with the district involved helping with the transition of including junior high students at Grant Union which she says has gone well because of the planning, teachers delving into their work – several instructing two or three subjects – and the students whom she says have made a difference.

“It’s been a great career, and I’ve worked with some very, very outstanding educators,” she said.

She plans to spend much of her retirement enjoying time with family, including her children: son Nathan Beal and nieces Kate Jacobson and Sarah Meng.

Superintendent Mark Witty, who started as Grant Union principal when Beal first became assistant principal, noted that Beal, with her breadth of experience, has been “very helpful” to District 3.

“Kris is the utmost professional individual that I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” he said. “I appreciate her dedication to the field of education and the students she’s served, and she will be missed.”

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