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BHS principal reflects on ‘the best four years’

When opportunity knocked for Bremerton High School (BHS) Principal Aaron Leavell, he was ready in every way, except emotionally.

"These have been the best four years of my life," he said. "And its hard not to get emotional about it."

The new position will make him director of secondary education for the North Kitsap School District (NKSD), an opportunity he could not pass on.

"Opportunities don't come up very often when you are kind of the hometown guy," Leavell said. "

He said he did not actually see the job listing himself, but colleagues, "from within and outside the area," told him about it and even suggested, "You'd be great at that job."

Leavell is currently in the educational doctorate program at the University of Washington and is taking part in a superintendent's internship, so he sees this as an opportunity to move in the direction of attaining his goals.

"The overall goal is to have a job like (superintendent)," he said.

Looking at the accomplishments of his administration, Leavell said the greatest achievement for them is they have "really brought the pride back to BHS with the community and parent support."

He also said he feels that students at BHS feel safe and have more options than before with the addition of higher level classes.

Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) reading and writing scores for the school also have made a 25-30 percent increase since he took over, according to Leavell.

"It has really just been a life-changing experience for me personally and professionally," he said. "And the people who work here are amazing. They came together around me as a new leader coming in and said 'This is the time. We're all in.' And they have been ever since I have been here."

Leavell considers himself a lucky guy who was blessed with "a tremendous staff, amazing community support and kids that make you feel good everyday."

Leavell said his one regret is leaving when the job is not yet complete, but with a new superintendent at the helm, he feels the work can continue and BHS can grow.

"I feel we are probably about halfway through our journey," he said. "And I do feel bad about that, I really do. But this is an opportunity for Bremerton."

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