Stephen Phillips has been chosen as the new superintendent of Jewell School District beginning next year.
The Jewell School Board voted unanimously during a special meeting Monday to hire Phillips. He had been brought in this school year as an executive administrator as part of an audition to replace Superintendent Alice Hunsaker, who is retiring at the end of the year along with Principal Terrence Smyth, her significant other.
“I think the board felt that Mr. Phillips was a good fit for Jewell School,” said Bryan Swearingen, the school board's chairman.
After six months on the job, Phillips was reviewed by most of the staff and many high school students, with overwhelmingly positive feedback, Swearingen said.
Phillips came to Jewell from Beaverton School District, where he was deputy superintendent until resigning last year after reposting an anti-immigrant tweet. He was recruited to Beaverton from the Malheur Education Service District, where he was superintendent for four years and director of secondary education for four years prior.
He also spent five years as a middle school vice principal and two as a math teacher in Nyssa near the Oregon-Idaho border. His first teaching job was in the Burnt River School District, which he said served about 100 students during his time there.
Jewell School is mostly funded by timber tax revenue and averages about 150 students K-12.
Hunsaker was hired in 2013 out of the Lake County Education Service District. She arrived in Jewell after a tumultuous three years under former superintendent-principal Brian Gander, followed by a school year that included three interim leaders.
“I think with our difficulties we’ve had in the past, when Alice Hunsaker came in, she was what the school district needed at the time," Swearingen said. "She’s done a real good job at rebuilding staff morale and confidence.”
Phillips has indicated he would like to be in Jewell for a while. He, his wife and five children have all relocated to campus housing and enrolled in the school district. Jewell hopes to have his contract prepared by a board meeting later this month.