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New school principals come to town

"Two new school leaders came to town this week. Dorothy Day, new principal at Oak Harbor Elementary, and Craig Dunnam, new Crescent Harbor Elementary School principal, spent Friday walking the halls, arranging their offices and settling into their new surroundings. Both say they are looking forward to the coming school year and to becoming part of the Oak Harbor community.It's nice to be back on the island, said Day, who has lived in Langley for the past four years but has been commuting to Jackson Elementary in Everett to work.Day steps into the position held previously by Glenda Merwine, who took a job as principal of Coupeville Elementary this year. During Merwine's tenure, Oak Harbor Elementary became a school of choice in the district. Parents choose to enroll their kids there and consent to requirements for parental participation, character education and student uniforms.Day said she fully supports the choice concept at the school and its goals.The staff here is exceptional and I've heard the parents are very involved. I've just heard raves about the school, she said. This will be a year to get to know people and earn trust. I'm not coming in to make big changes.This will be Day's first job as a principal, but she has been in education since about 1975. Originally from Salt Lake City, she has taught pre-school, kindergarten and first grade and operated her own child care center for five years. Day describes herself as energetic and says she enjoys sailing, kayaking and gardening. On Thursday of this week she became a grandmother.New Crescent Harbor Elementary principal Craig Dunnam's family is barely moved in to its Oak Harbor home. He said the family's furniture and other possessions haven't quite taken up residence yet. Dunnam was formerly principal of a 300-student elementary school in Dillingham, Alaska, a town that can only be reached by bush plane or boat. Dunnam has also been a teacher in Utah, Idaho, Arizona and his home state of Montana. Though he has worked with and enjoys middle school kids, Dunnam says he has a particular love for the primary grades.I'm an elementary person, he said. Settling in to his new school will be a little more difficult for Dunnam this fall because Crescent Harbor Elementary is currently being torn apart. The school is undergoing extensive remodeling, so students will transported to the old North Whidbey Middle School building on Northeast Fourth Street until Christmas.On Friday, Dunnam said he had only been able to look at the outside of his real school on Crescent Harbor Road because he didn't have a hard hat. As far as spending the first few months of his job helping everyone adjust to a different school building, Dunnam said he expects it all to work out fine.I think it will be a good transition. It will take a little patience, he said.While they're relocated, Dunnam intends to present regular slide shows to the students showing the construction progress going on at their school.Dunnam replaces former Crescent Harbor principal Don Warner, who resigned at the end of the school year in order to take a position with the Spokane School District. About 85 percent of Crescent Harbor's student population comes from military families.Dunnam has a background in the arts and says he hopes to become very involved in the numerous community activities and attractions Whidbey has to offer.In Dillingham you had the Beaver Roundup and that was about it, he said."

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