New THS principal sees job as best in state
Jamie Carlisle is aware of the revolving door of administrators the Tonganoxie School District is experiencing.
On May 2, the high school principal became the school board's second of four replacements for administrators who have resigned this year, whether it be for personal reasons or to take an administrative position elsewhere.
Carlisle, however, said he has experience facing such challenges.
At Baxter Springs High School, where Carlisle currently is employed, he started his first year as principal as the school's fifth principal in as many years.
He's now finishing his fifth school year as the district's high school principal.
"Going into a situation where there has been some turnover certainly doesn't worry me or scare me or intimidate me," Carlisle said. "In fact, I'm looking forward to this. I think it's going to be an awesome situation to walk into."
Carlisle will take over for Tatia Shelton, who resigned in mid-March. She is on a paid leave of absence through June 30, which is when her contract expires.
Shelton and Tonganoxie Middle School assistant principal Darren Neas were suspended for three days on March 8. The school board lifted their suspensions on March 12. Shortly after that, both administrators resigned and have been on paid leave since. Shelton came to Tonganoxie in 2004.
Carlisle, meanwhile, comes to Tonganoxie after spending 10 years at Baxter Springs. He served as a math teacher for four years before being hired as assistant principal. He also served for a time as high school boys basketball coach at Baxter Springs and was the school's athletics director for two years.
Before working in the southeast Kansas school district, he taught eight years at Carl Junction (Mo.) High School. While at CJHS, he taught math and coached basketball.
He graduated from Diamond High School in southwest Missouri and then attended college at York (Neb.) Christian College. He played baseball at the school, which, at the time, was a two-year college.
He attended Oklahoma Christian College in Edmond, Okla., for a semester before heading to Joplin, Mo., and Missouri Southern State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics. While there, he met his wife, Val, who overall served 17 years as student activities coordinator at the university.
"That's how I met her," Carlisle said.
Carlisle, who is 43, later earned his master's degree in administration from Pittsburg State University.
They have two children, a daughter, Cara, who is 17 and will be a senior next year, and Jeremy, 14, who will be a freshman next year.
Both will attend Tonganoxie High School in the fall.
Carlisle actually learned about the Tonganoxie job opening from a former THS principal.
Randy Rockhold, who went to Baxter Springs from Tonganoxie, clued Carlisle in on the opportunity.
Rockhold was principal at Baxter Springs for one year, Carlisle said.
"During that time, I got to know and trust Randy," Carlisle explained. He had nothing but wonderful things to say about Tonganoxie.
"He did then and still does," Carlisle said. Rockhold told Carlisle the THS principal's post "was the best job in the state of Kansas."
Carlisle officially will begin Aug. 1 at THS. His salary will be $84,000, Tonganoxie Superintendent Richard Erickson said.
"I'm looking forward to him being a very great leader at Tonganoxie High School," Erickson said. "(He has a) terrific track record at Baxter Springs. (He is a) proven leader with just an excellent track record."
Carlisle already has been making the rounds at his new school. He was back in Tonganoxie on Monday and Tuesday to get better acquainted with the future staff.
He said he's been in contact via e-mail, sending out surveys to personnel
"They've been amazing," Carlisle said. "To already respond ... I'm already impressed with the professionalism."
Excited to arrive
Carlisle is ready to approach a new era in a community he's eager to live in.
"Interestingly enough, I have yet to hear anyone say anything but wonderful things about Tonganoxie," Carlisle said. "Anyone who knows the area; knows the school.
"We're really excited about coming to the northern part of the state. And we're just looking forward to a wonderful experience here."