The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Ian Smay
The Times 

Shaber Completes First Year as DHS Principal

New Dayton High School Principal Paul Shaber reflects on first year at DHS



DAYTON – During the 2014-2015 school year, it was decided that instead of removing the term "interim" from Principal Kate Wenzl's title, the district would open up the search to applicants. After a search, that included three finalists plus the interim principal. After interviews by district officials, the student body, and community members, Mr. Paul Shaber was offered the job, which he accepted.

Fast forward a year later and Shaber is nearing the completion of his debut year at DHS. Being the third principal in as many years, there were high hopes for him to maintain a positive educational experience for the students enrolled in Dayton.

Paul Shaber graduated from the University of Idaho in 2003 and landed a job in Fruitland, Idaho as a teacher of both Physics and Geometry. "I taught there for 12 years in addition to coaching eighth grade football," said Shaber. After completing his Masters work in Administration in 2014, he landed the position at DHS.

Shaber was asked to reflect on his experience in his first year as a principal. "I have had a solid year of ups and downs.  I certainly made mistakes at times but I have worked hard to be available to the students and community and to establish priorities.  I have high expectations for myself and I have been trying to decide specifically which issues I need to focus on for next year," commented Shaber when asked to give a summary of the past year.

One issue that faced Shaber was the transition from teacher to principal, which for some can be a big step to take. "It is certainly an adjustment, there are no two ways about it.  Fortunately, I have a great staff to work with and most of what I have to do is keep us on the same page together." He went on to praise the community and his co-workers for helping make the transition as smooth as possible. "Since I had never been a principal before, I really didn't know what to expect.  I tried very hard to come into the job without expectation and it has been helpful."

His appreciation of the Dayton community didn't stop there, however.  "I appreciate that this is a small town and the focus on the family that I feel tends to go with it.  Most of the people I know are quite capable of having a meal as a family and feel that it is important," stated Shaber when asked his feelings about his new home. "It is my sincere hope that my efforts this year demonstrate to the community my dedication to students and their success."

One clear trait of Shaber's is his humble nature. He deflected taking credit for any accomplishments since he has been at the helm at DHS. "Although I will sometimes get credit for positive change, I don't accomplish anything by myself.  I work with an incredible staff and a supporting community to help our students succeed."

While it is obvious that he holds his staff in high regards, the feelings are reciprocated by his cohorts. Rob Moore, who is nearing the last of his 29 years at DHS, said, "Mr. Shaber has been a very steadying and calming influence since day one. He has a vision for the future and the vision to guide us there. DHS is very fortunate to have him in the fold."

Dan Nechodom, another teacher at DHS, said, "I've appreciated how he has worked to strike a balance between listening to what has been done before and bringing in fresh ideas.  He is very good at making sure that a student knows that they've been heard."

These feelings were echoed by teacher Doug Yenney, who added, "Mr. Shaber has shown to be committed to supporting all students and teachers in the classroom.  He's also supportive of athletics, encouraging students participate.  I have appreciated the feeling of support in my capacity as teacher and Knowledge Bowl coach.  I'm looking for Mr. Shaber to lead our school to great things in the very near future."

Shaber is viewed in a very positive light by his students. He is seen as a positive influence that really knows how to connect with his students, and feel that Shaber has gotten to know the kids personally. His efforts to bolster participation in extracurricular activities including sports and clubs is seen as a great step forward, as it was an issue that DHS had been struggling with in the last few years.

"A very smart man once told me that this job is all about relationships and I absolutely believe that," commented Shaber.

Looking forward, Shaber knows that it is not always easy to plan for the future. However, he has high hopes for the coming years at Dayton. When asked about his plans for the forthcoming terms at DHS, Shaber replied, "This is a difficult question to address.  Do I have plans?  Yes!  I want Dayton High School to be one of the best places to get an education in the United States!  Unfortunately, I have difficulty seeing what major changes might get us there so I will instead make small changes that continue to lead us in the right direction."


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