ELLIS — Atchison High School’s principal said in looking for his first district administrative job, he’s looking for a small community with a progressive school. He believes he found it in Ellis USD 388.
James Hansen toured the schools and community and interviewed with the school board Thursday as the final candidate for USD 388’s superintendent.
Hansen has been principal at Atchison High for three years and previously served as principal at Atchison Middle School for two years. He was also assistant principal at Galena High School in USD 499 for two years and taught at schools in Mill Valley and Shawnee Mission.
As a building administrator, he said he has worked with a bond issue from the planning stages, presenting it the community and working with architects and contractors.
He met with USD 388 staff and members of the community Thursday afternoon in the lobby of Ellis High School.
He told the crowd he and his wife recently became empty nesters and he finishing up his doctorate and were looking for what kind of community they wanted for the next step in his career.
“What we decided we were looking for is we wanted a little bit smaller community that had we felt to be very solid, progressive schools and we still wanted access to some things that a potential larger community could provide,” he said.
Ellis and nearby Hays and Fort Hays State University seem to provide that, he said, and noted other than the superintendent’s job in his home district, Ellis is the only job he’s applied for.
He said he was impressed with the district’s facilities and programs, in particular the high school theater, gym and technical education classrooms.
The small class sizes in Washington Elementary School were also appealing, he said.
“I was so excited to walk in and see the flexible seating,” he said.
The school’s technology use was also a highlight, he said.
“I saw kids using technology well to express knowledge,” he said. “That was great to see they weren’t just on an iPad doing something, but they’re actually, I walked over there and there was a group of kids actually creating things. That’s awesome,” he said.
Hansen said the Atchison district has used technology to communicate with students and parents in different ways. The high school has a Snapchat account to keep students informed and has found parents use Twitter.
But he’s a proponent for building personal relationships as well, he said. As superintendent, his transition plant would include visiting with businesses to help develop opportunities for student internships and job shadowing.