Chris Wagner, an algebra teacher at La Grande Middle School the past six years, will have a new job when classes start in late August. Make that two jobs.

The La Grande School Board named Wagner to serve as a half-time assistant principal at both the middle school and at
Central Elementary School.

“I feel very, very honored to be selected,” Wagner said.

Wagner will make history when he takes his new position in August. He will be the first educator in the La Grande School
District known to serve simultaneously as an assistant principal at the middle school and at a grade school. The school district has had administrators who were the principals of two grade schools in recent decades, but not anyone who was an assistant principal at a grade school and the middle school.

School board Chair Joe Justice said Wagner’s position is needed because enrollment at Central and LMS is increasing. The growth is creating a need for more staff, but Justice is glad there is a need to deal with such issues because enrollment is critical to the school district’s future.

“It is a good dilemma to have,’’ Justice said.

Wagner began his career with the La Grande School District in 2010 when he joined the La Grande Middle School staff. He taught sixth grade at LMS for two years before becoming a math teacher, where he instructed students in seventh and eighth grades.

“My time as a teacher is something I will always cherish,’’ Wagner said.

Fellow faculty who were impressed with Wagner’s work at LMS include social studies teacher Klel Carson, who credits him with being able to connect with young people.

“He has such a good rapport with kids. He cares a lot,’’ Carson said. “He is a good people person.’’

Central Elementary School Principal Suzy Mayes also speaks highly of Wagner.

“I’m very excited to have Chris as our very first part-time vice principal. His integrity, values and leadership skills are impeccable,” Mayes said. “Our school community is thrilled to have such a leader with us at Central.’’

Wagner will join LMS’s administrative team of Principal Kyle McKinney and Assistant Principal Brett Jackman, both of whom work full time at the middle school.

McKinney taught math at La Grande High School before becoming LMS principal and his students included Wagner, who grew up in La Grande and is a 2002 LHS graduate.

Wagner said he has learned a lot about school leadership from McKinney and Jackman.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer