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story.lead_photo.caption Karen Steen

ROGERS -- Heritage High School's first principal will assume a new role as principal of Crossroads, the School District's alternative learning school, starting this summer.

Karen Steen shared the news of her job change with Heritage staff members Thursday.

Salaries

Karen Steen’s salary this school year is $120,504. Cindy Ford’s salary as Crossroads principal is $106,391.

Source: Rogers School District

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"I look forward to taking what I have learned as the instructional leader here at Heritage and applying it to this new challenge," Steen said, according to a written copy of her message to the staff, provided by the School District.

She told the staff she will finish the school year as Heritage's principal.

"Thank you for understanding with me that change is inevitable in schools in order for them to grow from good to great to extraordinary ... and that includes leadership change," Steen said.

Steen was an assistant principal at Bentonville High School when she was named Heritage's principal in 2007, one year before the school opened. She previously worked for schools in Las Vegas.

At Crossroads, she will replace Cindy Ford, who is retiring at the end of this school year. Ford has worked in the district since 1977. She was a teacher, librarian and director of media services before becoming principal of Crossroads in 2009, according to Ashley Siwiec, director of communications.

The Heritage principal's position has been posted. Officials will be "working swiftly to find the best candidate possible," Siwiec wrote in an email.

Steen said Friday her decision to accept the Crossroads job was the culmination of many conversations within the district over the past four to six weeks. Steen has never worked in an alternative learning environment.

"Through conversations with the superintendent and other discussions with other people, when this (Crossroads job) came available, I thought, maybe this is the Lord leading me in a a direction I didn't see coming. It may very well be what I need to be doing," she said.

Heritage, like the rest of the district, is moving in the right direction, but a new leader may help accelerate the school's improvement, Steen said.

"I really want to see it thrive. I want to see it get even better under the leadership of the next principal," Steen said.

Heritage was the sixth-largest high school in Northwest Arkansas by enrollment with 1,942 students as of last fall, according to Arkansas Department of Education data.

The school ranked 10th in Arkansas and No. 1,508 in the nation in the 2017 rankings of the nation's high schools by U.S. News & World Report. Heritage had placed no lower than sixth in the publication's state rankings in the previous five years.

Crossroads is for middle and high school students who struggle in traditional schools. The student-to-teacher ratio is smaller than at traditional schools. The school has a staff of about 25, including 14 teachers. There were 143 high school students and 23 middle school students enrolled at Crossroads on Friday, Ford said.

Crossroads moved out of the Annex building on South First Street and into a newly renovated, 22,000-square-foot building in downtown Rogers last summer. Ford said she wanted to remain at Crossroads through the transition to the new building.

"It's a good time to step out and let a fresh face take over," she said. She added she's "delighted" to know Steen will be her successor.

"I have the utmost respect for Karen Steen. She is a brilliant lady. She's of the highest caliber of ethics. She has a passion for this population of students," Ford said.

NW News on 02/10/2018

Print Headline: Heritage High School principal to take new job

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