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Principal retiring; assistant promoted

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The leader of Greenwood Community High School is retiring, but students and teachers will still see a familiar face in the front office when they return to school this fall.

Jim Kaylor is retiring at the end of the school year. He’s been the high school’s principal for the past 14 years and has been working in education for 38 years. Todd Garrison, who has known Kaylor for 17 years and who has been an assistant principal at Greenwood for nine years, will take over as the high school’s principal in the fall.

Greenwood will be the fourth area high school to name a new principal in two years; Center Grove and Whiteland Community High Schools both hired new principals last summer, and Franklin Community High School hired its principal two years ago.

When Garrison takes over he’ll oversee at least 60 teachers and will help create policies that will affect more than 1,100 students at the high school.

He will need to find more ways to show students how taking lots of math and science courses in high school will prepare them for careers in engineering, heath care and other fields and will decide how technology such as tablets, laptops and the Internet should be used in Greenwood’s classes.

Garrison’s experience working with Kaylor at Greenwood made him the best choice to take over leading the high school, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.

“Todd has really been Jim’s right-hand person for a number of years. So when it came time for Jim’s retiring, Todd really was a logical choice for us,” DeKoninck said.

When Kaylor took over as Greenwood’s principal the high school was on academic watch, meaning the state department of education was concerned that students weren’t mastering what they were being taught in math, English and other core classes.

But in the past three years Greenwood has been named a Four Star school by the state, an honor given when a school’s ISTEP or end-of-course assessment scores are in the top 25 percent of the state. The high school has also earned A grades from the state for the past two years, which are based largely on students’ end-of-course assessment scores, the high school’s graduation rate and the kinds of diplomas students earn.

Kaylor was essential in helping improve students’ test scores at the high school, Garrison said.

Greenwood’s teachers and other administrators made the difference by spending more time helping students master lessons they didn’t understand the first time, Kaylor said.

“We were just an average school, and then we moved it up a notch to a very good school,” Kaylor said. “And the teachers and administrators, we all worked very hard to do that.”

One of Garrison’s goals when he takes over next school year will be to provide more technical and vocational opportunities for students.

DeKoninck started looking this school year for more ways that Greenwood could partner with businesses and companies around central Indiana so that students could learn more about careers using science, math, engineering and other technical skills. DeKoninck wants students who plan to go to college and who want to start their careers after high school to get more hands-on experience with these kinds of jobs. Garrison will need to find different ways to show students more about the kinds of jobs they can get if they take science and math courses earlier.

Earlier this month representatives from Cummins Inc. let students at Greenwood Middle School use virtual reality technology that the company uses to design engines. Garrison said he wants to find similar opportunities for high school students, he said.

Another big job for Garrison next school year will be continuing to help Greenwood find the best way to use technology in the classroom, though that doesn’t mean buying a computer or tablet for every student.

While Center Grove, Franklin and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools have purchased or made plans to purchase iPads or laptops for all of their high school students, Greenwood has spent the past two years trying different kinds of devices in middle and high school classrooms. School officials wanted to see which devices teachers could use to easily blend traditional lessons with online assignments and lectures. That way the school district didn’t risk buying 1,100 devices, only to find out later that they were too difficult to use or that they were distracting students in class.

Next year the high school’s world language and language arts courses will use electronic textbooks, which students will read using their own devices or devices supplied by the high school. But Greenwood hasn’t purchased a device for every student, and instead the school district wants to have one device for every three students taking a language arts or world language course.

As he sees how the new lessons work he can decide how laptops, tablets and the Internet can best be used in other courses as well, Garrison said.

The Kaylor file

Name: Jim Kaylor

Position he’s leaving: Greenwood Community High School principal

Years at Greenwood: 14

Years in education: 38

Proudest achievement: Helping Greenwood become a Four Star school for the last three years

The Garrison file

Name: Todd Garrison

Current position: Greenwood Community High School assistant principal

New position: Will take over as principal next school year

Biggest goals: Finding more ways to teach students about careers using math, science and engineering skills; learning more about the best ways to use laptops, tablets and the Internet in class

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