By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A past Oklahoma middle school “Principal of the Year” has been named to lead Yukon Middle School.
Kenneth Ward’s selection as the next YMS principal was approved at the May 6 Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting. He met later in the week with school personnel and will officially assume his new duties June 28 succeeding Diana Lebsack.
Ward, whose wife Melanie teaches at Independence Elementary School, called YPS an “unbelievable district” and YMS a “great school already.”
“I just couldn’t be more excited to be given the opportunity to work in a system where everybody understands the power of positive culture and making it a place where everybody gets excited to come to work every day,” Ward said.
Ward said it’s an “honor” to be selected to oversee Yukon’s 2,100-student middle school and is “super-excited” to lead the school’s 150 teachers and staff. He credited current YMS teachers for being so effective and “on top of their game” in instructing such a “great group of kids.”
Leading a large school of 2,100 adolescent youth is admittedly a daunting task to Ward – but one he embraces.
“It’s also very exciting to think that we’re going to have a positive effect and usher those kids into the next chapter of their lives,” he said. “It’s a whole lot of kids to have a life-changing effect on.”
Ward looks forward to getting started in late June and interacting with YMS’ active parent organization.
“I can’t wait to meet those people and hearing about the things they’re already doing and to make sure we can keep that teamwork happening,” he said.
Ward has served this year as human resources director at Bridge Creek Public Schools in Blanchard after being Bridge Creek’s middle school principal from 2014 to spring 2018.
Ward has 14 years of professional experience in education, all but two at the middle school level. He spent six years teaching in Moore and Valliant before being an assistant principal in Haworth and later Broken Bow.
“My whole education career, for the most part, is middle school – whether it be in administration or teaching,” he said.
Ward is past president of the Oklahoma Middle Level Educators Association (OMLEA) and serves on the Association of Middle Level Educators’ National Conference.
Three years ago, Ward was named the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals’ (OASSP) Middle School Principal of the Year.
BACK WHERE HE BELONGS
Ward anticipates his new role as Yukon’s middle school principal.
While he’s enjoyed being HR director in Bridge Creek and has learned a “tremendous amount”, Ward really looks forward to being in Yukon working with teachers and school leaders while interacting with parents and students.
“I just couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “To come to a large school where I have a large administrative staff is also extremely exciting.”
Ward serves on several boards and associations besides the OMLEA, including: Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators, (OASSP), and Oklahoma Association of School Administrators.
He is a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Oklahoma Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Principal’s Advisory Council the Foundation for Better Schools and others.
Ward also is an adjunct instructor for Southern Nazarene University’s Master of Arts in School Administration program.
Ward has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s degree from SNU. He will earn his doctorate from Concordia University in Oregon.
The incoming YMS principal has been astounded by the community support for Yukon schools.
“There are so many different businesses and different folks from the community that get involve in the school district,” Ward said.
He has been impressed with the positive atmosphere in the Yukon district, and the expertise of YPS Superintendent Jason Simeroth, Assistant Superintendent Sheli McAdoo and Assistant Superintendent Jason Brunk.