There’s a changing of the guard afoot at Amphitheater Public Schools. Five schools in the district have named new principals. Together they will make up a new wave of administration that will determine the district’s trajectory.
A high school, middle school and three elementary schools in the district have new leaders. For most, taking on the role of principal means a huge increase in leadership and responsibility. For Andy Heinemann, though, being named principal at Cross Middle School means a significant reduction in workload.
That’s because Heinemann was principal of both Harelson Elementary School and Cross last year. He filled in for former principal Shannon Chandler, who took a leave in the last school year and has decided not to return.
“I had two great assistant principals and two very supportive staffs at both sites, and the support of the community,” Heinemann said. “It was all about balancing and prioritizing what needed to be done.”
Now Heinemann will focus all his efforts on Cross. He was principal at Harelson for 12 years.
“After running two schools, I’m running on empty now,” he said. “It was a good experience. I was a teacher at Cross years ago, and it’s kind of neat to come full circle.”
Tanya Wall, new principal at Copper Creek Elementary, served a semester as interim principal at the school in the past and has 14 years of experience in education. She has been an assistant principal at Amphitheater Middle School for three years.
“I really believe in character education,” she said. “It’s equally important as academic education. Teaching kids to become students. Work hard and set goals. They will be successful in high school and college if we build that foundation. All the little pieces will fit together.”
Carol Tracy, who takes over at Mesa Verde Elementary School, has been with the district since 2003. A National Board certified teacher, Tracy graduated from Amphitheater High School and the University of Arizona. She was most recently an assistant principal at Harelson.
Tracy replaces Foster Hepier, who will work at the Amphitheater Central Office in instructional support.
“It’s already a wonderful school. The principal has been there for 12 years, and I want to continue the traditions of meeting kids’ needs and doing what’s best for kids in helping them succeed and reach their full potential,” Tracy said.
Natalie Burnett, who is taking the helm at Ironwood Ridge High School, is making the longest move of any of her colleagues, coming to Oro Valley from Anchorage, Alaska, where she has served as an administrator since 2000.
She replaces Michael Szolowicz, who will become an assistant principal at Sahuarita High School as he works on his doctorate degree.
Diana Walker, who will take over for Heinemann at Harelson on an interim basis as the district looks for a permanent replacement, has been with the district for 21 years. She has been principal at Copper Creek.