New high school principal Swanson says he was attracted by local progress, warmth

By Sean C. Morgan

Lebanon Local

Craig Swanson says his goal as Lebanon High School’s new principal is to raise graduation rates.

Lebanon Community School District reported July 28 that High School Principal Brad Shreve had accepted a position at Roberts High School in Salem, and in a press release thanked him “for his years of leadership at Lebanon High School and for his contributions to the Lebanon Community School District.”

Swanson grew up in the Albany area and is a 1992 graduate of West Albany High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, his master’s degree at Portland State University and his administrative certification at George Fox University.

He returned to West Albany and taught math and coached girls basketball, playing through the championship bracket in 2011. He recalls some good basketball games against Lebanon.

He left West Albany in 2012 to be athletic director at Sprague High School in Salem, then became a high school principal in 2014 at John F. Kennedy High School in Mt. Angel, where he spent one year before returning to Sprague as principal, where he spent the past four years.

The school had some success during that time, with the graduation rate increasing from 85 percent to 88 percent then 91 and, in his final year, to 95 percent.

“We raised graduation 10 percent in four years,” Swanson said. “A lot of hard work by our students and staff to accomplish that feat.”

When the Lebanon position opened, having been raised in the Mid-Willamette area, Swanson’s interest was piqued. He looked at Lebanon and saw progressive things that have happened in the past decade, the medical school, the growth in business.

“I’m excited to come to work in the Lebanon School District, to help accomplish the same kind of work with education,” Swanson said. “The motto ‘The city built on friendliness,’ that’s everything I’ve experienced since joining the team.”

Tim Geoghegan, assistant principal at Lebanon High School, will move back to Lacomb School to replace Whitney Connolly, who resigned as principal for Lacomb.

Geoghegan is being replaced as assistant principal at the high school by Angela Landy. She comes to Lebanon from the David Douglas High School in Portland.

“She has experience in English language arts, writing across the curriculum, health occupations CTE and has recently overseen grant coordination for the David Douglas School District,” Swanson said.

Swanson said he has been received very warmly by the staff and the community. That’s the kind of thing he found out about Lebanon when he was considering applying and researching the community.

Lebanon has a lot of good people committed to keeping it a close-knit community and improving.

While he was coaching basketball, he said he never really got to see much more than the ball field. Now, he has.

“I love the feel of that building,” Swanson said. It’s decorated nicely, with school colors and a college and career focus. The custodial team has done a great job getting it ready for the school year, and it makes it a great place for kids.

As a new principal, “I need to learn and observe everything that’s going on, look for the positives, as well as the things we can improve on,” Swanson said, adding he doesn’t want to come in and “change 20 things.”

He needs to learn, to get to know the staff, students, parents and community, Swanson said, and then he needs to work with the staff and the students to implement improvements.

“The vision I have is you’re going to get everybody to graduate,” he said. “When they graduate, they get lots of doors open to them.”

The graduates get to choose which door to walk through, he said, and they’re prepared to be successful.