By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Two Yukon Public Schools’ principals have started new administrative duties after action this week by the YPS Board of Education.
Parkland Elementary School Principal Lance Haggard was named executive director of elementary education and Yukon Middle School Principal Diana Lebsack has been named executive director of secondary education.
The YPS Board, at a special noon meeting June 20 inside the YPS Administration Office, unanimously approved Superintendent Jason Simeroth’s recommendation for Lebsack and Haggard to fill the two newly created positions.
The action comes after the recent resignation of Sheli McAdoo, who is leaving YPS after seven years as an assistant superintendent to become the new superintendent in Purcell. McAdoo’s position was restructured.
About 20-25 applicants from inside and outside Yukon and even from outside Oklahoma applied for the two YPS executive director positions. About a dozen candidates were interviewed by a committee comprised of district officials.
Haggard and Lebsack are “really, really excited to step out of their comfort zone and take on this challenge,” Simeroth said.
The YPS superintendent explained why the two principals stood out above the other applicants for the new administrative posts. Both Haggard and Lebsack were unanimous choices among members of the committee.
“The relationship they have with the teachers in the district, the respect they have of the colleagues and the community, their innovation, their willingness to take chances and their willingness to take responsibility for what they do,” Simeroth said.
“One of the things that we value very much here in the things that we do is collaboration. They are two of the very best in being participants in that on every level – whether it’s myself, classroom teachers, other administrators, or other people around the state.”
ASCENDING TO NEW ROLES
Haggard started his education career in 1991 with YPS, teaching three years at Parkland Elementary. He spent five years as a principal in Hennessey before returning to Parkland in 1999 to become principal.
Haggard has spent the past 20 years as Parkland’s principal before being named executive director of elementary education.
“I am committed to working tirelessly to uphold our district’s stellar reputation and expand educational opportunities across all classrooms,” Haggard said.
“While our school district continues to grow and prosper, I intend to continue the ‘small town’, communal feel that I have cherished over the years. We will continue to choose betterment over complacency as we educate future generations of Yukon Millers.”
Haggard’s promotion will create a vacancy for head principal at Parkland Elementary. The position was posted Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Lebsack brings nearly 20 years of experience to her new role as executive director of secondary education. She has spent the past four years as principal at Yukon Middle School and was named Oklahoma’s Middle School Principal of the Year in 2018.
Before coming to YPS, Lebsack was a high school and middle school principal in Putnam City.
“My passion for secondary education started 20 years ago when I began teaching high school biology and worked in the evenings as the principal of a credit recovery program for at-risk students,” Lebsack said.
“I knew during those years I wanted to make a difference and help individual kids find their own path to success. I am beyond thrilled to continue working here in the Yukon community as part of a collaborative team of Yukon administrators.”
Kenneth Ward will succeed Lebsack as YMS principal.
Lebsack had earlier resigned her principal position with YPS to become principal at Mustang South Middle School effective July 1. But she decided to seek the newly created YPS executive director of secondary education post after McAdoo’s recent resignation.
Simeroth related that Lebsack believes this is the “dream job” for her.
“Diana and I have worked together; (Assistant Superintendent) Jason (Brunk) and her have worked together so there’s already that built-in trust and professional relationship,” he said. “We’re very thrilled that she decided to apply and take this position.”