Clarkdale-Jerome prepares for administration shift
CLARKDALE - This academic year brings a new assistant principal into the Clarkdale-Jerome School office in preparation for Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor's May retirement.
Rural educator and administrator Steve Doerksen was hired over the summer to take on more of Principal Scott Jacobson's growing responsibilities.
"As he becomes more and more comfortable, he will be taking on more and more duties," Jacobson said. "When our dean of students left last year, I was in charge of everything and our superintendent was part time."
Fleenor supported him 100 percent, Jacobson said.
"I was thinking after our first day, there are things that I would not have gotten done without Mr. Doerksen," he said.
As assistant principal, Doerksen will take on discipline and behavior management while Jacobson focuses on academics and classroom instruction.
"There's more to discipline than just handing out detentions or suspensions," Doerksen said. "We want to work with the kids and develop that relationship with them."
CJS is fortunate to have a school resource officer on campus all day this academic year, he said, a luxury not all schools get. The second week of school will be spent getting the ball rolling on bring classrooms preventative drug, bullying, and alcohol lessons.
Coupled with the work of the campus counselor, Doerksen said the goal is to let the students know they're important.
"That's really important for the learning process, giving them that vision to excel," he said. "We have a really good climate of mutual respect here."
Raised in Anaheim a mile from Disneyland, Doerksen said he likes rural communities where people can get out and do things.
"You can just go out and hike around and see nature, you don't have to take three freeways, you don't have the traffic jams or the rush hour," he said.
He earned his degree from Arizona State University in secondary biology education before taking a job in Globe, AZ teaching sophomores. After five years, he got the urge to work in administration and earned his masters degree in education leadership from Northern Arizona University.
After taking on the vice principalship at Globe High School for five years, he spent another handful working in an elementary school, followed by two at High Desert Middle School.
"Then I wanted to do something adventurous," he said.
Doerksen started looking for education positions abroad, and accepted a job as principal of Kodiak Middle School in Alaska. He moved into various administrative positions from there, including director of rural schools.
"I had several schools under my direction and you can only get to those schools by boat or by airplane," he said. "So I did a lot of flying to rural schools where there were only 10 students up to 30 students."
The Doerksens have five children, and decided they wanted to move to Arizona to be closer to their oldest son and his wife and 3-year-old daughter, as well as some extended family.
The couple has a junior and a freshman at Mingus Union High School, and a seventh and a third grader at CJS with their dad.
"We're very glad to be back home in Arizona," he said. "This is a great place to live. The climate and country are very similar to Globe."