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Newberg administrator takes reins at Benson

June 22, 2011
Carol Campbell, a small school administrator in Newberg and former Portland Public Schools teacher, is the new principal of Benson Polytechnic High School. Campbell will start at Benson July 1 when Steve Olczak retires.
Campbell has been principal of Newberg High School’s Silver School since August 2007 where she worked with career-technical education programs in welding, greenhouse management and marketing. Prior to that, she taught science at Grant High School for nine years and was a teacher and athletic director at Duchesne High School in St. Charles, Missouri, from 1983 to 1998.

“I am already impressed by the dedication to teaching and learning that I have witnessed among the Benson staff and that is apparent in Benson’s graduation rate and academic performance,” Campbell said.

“I developed an appreciation of the value of professional-technical experiences for students while at Newberg and look forward to working in a school that combines such experiences with the core courses that ensure all students are career and college ready,” she said. “Returning to PPS as the principal of Benson is a dream come true.”

Campbell is working toward a doctoral degree in education administration at Portland State University. She has a master’s in curriculum and instruction and an administrative license from PSU. As an undergraduate, she earned a bachelor's degree in education biology, physical education and health from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Superintendent Carole Smith says: “I’m excited that Carol is returning to PPS and can bring both her teaching and her leadership skills to Benson as its new principal.”

Benson's new principal, Carol Campbell, arrives at the school at an important time.

The district’s premier four-year, career-technical education focus school, Benson will get smaller as part of the school district's High School System Design effort; it expects 873 students in 2011-12, down from 1,028 this year. The school remains in high demand: This year, 360 students applied for 240 freshmen spots this fall.

The school is retaining its Communications Technology, Industrial Engineering and Health Sciences academies but is cutting several smaller majors, including Pharmacy Assistant and Computer Technology, because of enrollment changes and budget cuts.

Achievement at Benson is up, with 70 percent of students meeting or exceeding math benchmarks this year, a nearly 19 percent year-over-year gain. Eighty-five percent of Benson students met or exceeded reading benchmarks, a nearly 27 percent gain over last year, aided in part by moving testing districtwide from 10th to 11th grade.

The school's graduation rate is 77.1 percent, well above the district average, and Benson has the district’s highest graduation rate for African-American students: 72.5 percent. The Benson student body is roughly a quarter each African-American, white, Latino and Asian-American.

Benson graduates this year included Blaise Clarke, a valedictorian who earned a perfect score on the SAT, and Kiera Brinkley, who has significant physical disabilities drew cheers at graduation by walking across the stage using prostheses. Kiera has a full-ride scholarship in dance at the Juilliard School in New York City.

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