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New principal has plans for school improvements

Bear River’s new principal Chris Roberts plans to implement WASC goals. Courtesy photo

A quarter into the school year, Bear River’s new principal has been announced, and it’s none other than former Lyman Gilmore Principal Christopher Roberts.

Mr. Roberts said that he is thrilled to begin work at Bear River — he said that he is excited to be around high school students, get to know the staff, and work towards achieving the goals outlined in the recent Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) report given to our school.

Former Bear River Principal Dr. Amy Besler described the process she, the staff, and the WASC Committee went through to develop this report.

“I think the next phase for Bear River’s leadership is a concerted emphasis on instructional continuity, common assessment, and continued honing of student support and intervention in all aspects,” she said. “Through our WASC accreditation process last year, we collectively developed four big goals and very detailed action plans attached to those goals which will drive the efforts forward for the next six years.”

Mr. Roberts explained his view of Bear River’s goals, saying that he felt they were very well-written and appropriate, and then elaborated on his plans to initiate action regarding achieving these results.

“I feel like I can immediately help with working with the middle school in coming up with a plan to make the transition from there to Bear River as smooth as possible, and reduce the number of non-grad students coming into Bear River,” Mr. Roberts said.

The official WASC report elaborates on the specifics of this dilemma.

“We have experienced a dramatic increase in the percentage of students who are arriving at Bear River as freshmen with low academic skills and a history of academic difficulty,” it says. “In 2017, 41 -out of 175- incoming freshmen had not graduated from the 8th grade, compared to a more typical number of 10-15 freshmen in this category.”

Mr. Roberts explained how he plans to work towards solving this problem.

“As the district starts moving toward a full implementation of Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS), a utilization of existing resources to improve academic and behavioral support for all students, we should start to see a considerable move in the right direction,” he said. “Magnolia is also beginning this process.”

He went on to emphasize his excitement to be working on a high school campus in the first place — especially because his son, Sophomore Tanner Roberts, attends Bear River.

“The thing I’m most excited for is to be back on a high school campus again,” Mr. Roberts said. “High school students are so full of life and excitement. … My son, Tanner, is a sophomore at Bear River right now. I’m excited to be there with him and help to make his high school experience, and all Bear River students’, the best it can be.”

Roberts talked about what he thinks his experience will be like with his dad also being his principal.

“I think it’s going to be cool because I get to see him every single day instead of him going to a different school and representing a different community,” he said. “… I think he’s going to change the school in a great way.”

A couple months ago, several Bruins gave their input on what they wanted in a new principal.

“Someone who’s outgoing and interacts really well with the students,” said Senior Layla Ray.

“[Someone who’s] kind and organized,” said Freshman Jordan Vogt.

I hope a new principal will continue to emphasize the importance of a safe and connected culture that centers on our shared core values,” said Dr. Besler. “I am sure that the new person will also continue to support and encourage the incredibly important work of our staff and celebrate our successes with the greater public.”

Social Studies Teacher and Activities Director Matt Macdonald said that now that he has met Mr. Roberts a couple of times, he thinks that he will fit well into the Bear River community.

“I think he’s going to bring a lot of passion for students and kids,” Mr. Mcdonald said. “I think it’s an easy place to be at, I think it’s a great place to be a principal at because I feel like we’ve got a great student body, we got a staff that’s really willing to get on board and follow their leadership.”

Mr. Roberts detailed when exactly he will be starting at Bear River.

“I will start…  as soon as the Grass Valley School District finds my replacement,” he said. “Superintendent McFadden (Nevada Joint Union High School District) and Superintendent Fredrickson (Grass Valley School District) have worked out a plan to make sure both sites are covered until that transition happens…. We want to make sure Gilmore is in good hands before I leave.”

In closing, he said that once he begins he wants all Bruins to know that his door is always open for questions, concerns, or suggestions from students.

“I want the students and staff at Bear River to know how excited I am to get started,” he said. “I also want them to know that… I’m always here to listen. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Go Bruins!”

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New principal has plans for school improvements