April 18, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The career of Elgin High School Principal Kerma Berry is ascending at a remarkable rate.

Berry, who is completing her first year as a school administrator, will soon become the Elgin School Districts new superintendent. Berry will succeed interim Superintendent Larry Christman, who will retire at the end of June.

Berry was selected as superintendent by the school board on Tuesday.

Im tickled to death, Christman said. She has done a great job.

Christman describes Berry as a peoples administrator.

She is a super person... She is very dedicated and works well with people, he said.

Berry was appointed Elgin High Schools principal last summer after working in the Imbler School District for 30 years. She taught junior high math, science and physical education in the Imbler School District. Berry served as a teachers aide and a high school secretary early in her tenure with the Imbler district.

Elgin School Board member Bud Scoubes said that Berrys extensive teaching experience is one of the things that will help her be a successful superintendent.

She has the makings of an exceptional administrator, Scoubes said.

Scoubes noted that Berrys heart is in the right place.

She sincerely has a love of education and kids, Scoubes said.

Berry will continue to serve as high school principal after she becomes superintendent. This means that the school district will later hire a new principal for Stella Mayfield Elementary School after Christman leaves. Christman has served as Mayfield principal and superintendent.

Berry credits Christman with helping her make the transition from a classroom teacher to an administrator.

He is the best mentor I could have had, Berry said. ... He has always been very supportive in any decision Ive made.

Berry also noted the support shes received from the school districts staff and students, and the Elgin community has been tremendous. She has been impressed with how dedicated all are to education.

Berry grew up in Dayville. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and her masters degree from Eastern Oregon University. Berry earned her administrative credentials from Lewis and Clark College in Portland.

Berry and her husband, Bryce, have two sons, Jason and Matt, graduates of Imbler High School and Walla Walla Community College.

Berry said she is surprised at how quickly her career has evolved over the past year. She is looking forward to assuming her new position.

I feel excited and challenged at the same time, she said.