Winlock Miller Elementary School recently posted an opening for an elementary principal. According to school Superintendent Rick Serns, "the District received 23 applicants and interviewed seven of them in a first round of interviews and two of the seven were invited back for a second round of interviews. We were very pleased that we had a number of very strong applicants," Serns said. "We tried to include input from a wide variety of staff, parents, and community members and we found that there was a strong consensus for the selection of Dr. Omar Flores."
"Dr. Flores is well known in the community and has a very strong background. He worked for the Winlock School District for ten years, from 2007-2017, as a school psychologist for the Lewis County Special Education Co-op," continued Serns. When he interviewed for that position, Dr. Flores said that "Winlock Elementary School was one of the first schools he visited and he was struck by the natural beauty of the area, the cultural diversity, and the overall appeal of the area." Dr. Flores said he is "excited about taking the position of principal for several reasons. I know the community, the culture, and its resilience. I believe that using a positive, strengths-based approach is essential in developing an environment that is constructive and fruitful for learning."
One of the strengths of Dr. Flores that consistently came through from everyone that had worked with him, Serns said, was that "He has a special ability to have difficult conversations that end with everyone going away supportive and respectful of one another." In addition to his personal strengths, Dr. Flores has a doctorate in education and has a rich background in supporting special education students and teachers. Because of this background Dr. Flores' responsibilities will also include working with the special education services in the district, K-12. In that regard, Dr. Flores said his goal is to support special education teachers within the district and begin working towards developing a more inclusive model of services for our students.
Like his predecessor, Boyd Calder, Dr. Flores will also be the administrator for the Winolequa Learning Academy, the district's alternative high school. With these various points of contact with students, teachers, and the community, Dr. Flores said his "objective is to be visible and approachable and to develop a sense of mutual respect." He said, "I believe we have the potential to create a safe, nurturing, and welcoming environment with high expectations, where educational achievement and positive behavior are the norm. I am a believer in community pride... (and) my objective for students is that they become role models within the community."
Superintendent Serns said that he is looking forward to working with Dr. Flores and he believes he will be a real asset to the community. He also said that with his knowledge of the community and the staff, and his prior working relationship with Mr. Calder, he believes there will be a smooth and strong transition as he assumes his duties this summer. Boyd Calder, the current principal, is transitioning to acquiring a business with his son but will continue working with the district next year as the Student and Family Advocate at Winlock's MS/HS campus.