Written by Devon Boen
There are several new faces roaming the halls of Poplar Schools this year, and they don’t all belong to students.
The district has hired Rayna Hartz as the Poplar High School principal with Kent Hoffman and Brant Flath sharing the responsibilities of assistant principal. Flath is also acting as the fifth- through eighth-grade middle school principal.
All three come from diverse backgrounds and note the culture of Poplar as a main reason for seeking employment in the area.
Hartz has divided her time between Wolf Point and Alaska ever since she was a young child. Her mother is an Alaskan native and, although she considers the state her true home, she said she enjoys the area here and plans to stay long-term.
Hartz was an English teacher as well as a K-12 principal all over Alaska and that background has made her more than prepared to fulfill the duties of her position at Poplar and create an idealistic learning environment.
When asked about what such a learning environment would entail, Hartz immediately said joy was a key factor. The overall happiness and well-being of students and staff is what would create the foundation for a successful school system.
When Hartz was offered a tour of the school before she was officially hired, she said she saw that joy in the students of Poplar High School, which helped her decide to take the position.
Hartz is in charge of both management aspects of the school system as well as educational ones. By the nature of her job as principal, she interacts with students less than the assistant principal or teachers so she compensates for this by going around to classrooms on a regular basis and attending as many school sports and activities as she can.
Hartz said she believed leadership was a process and education was transformational. She said she wanted to involve everyone in the process of finding out what tactics work and taking the steps to implement those changes and improvements.
Flath similarly believed in working collectively to achieve goals this school year. He was previously a teacher and an assistant principal in Boulder and he plans to use his experience to guide him through his time in Poplar.
He said he hopes to build a new identity for the middle school and wants teachers, students, and the administration to believe what they’re doing is good. He sees his position in the Poplar School District as an opportunity to rebuild.
Flath also said he was looking forward to creating and implementing multiple after-school programs over the course of the year.
Hoffman has the most diverse background in terms of his career. He previously produced music videos and has won an MTV music video award for his work.
Several years ago, he transitioned into an educational path when he began working as a teacher in The Bronx. He moved on to working as an assistant principal and a principal following his teaching career.
Hoffman said he wanted to work in a school that truly wanted his assistance and he felt that welcoming spirit from Poplar High School.
Hoffman said he looks forward to building relationships with the students and being a part of the community in general.
The largely new administrative team plans to implement productive changes and maintain already functioning values and goals.
Hartz, Blath and Hoffman emphasized the importance of leadership and collaborating to design a healthy and sustainable school system and look forward to creating such a system in the coming year.