By Skye Kinkade
With the experience of four years as principal at Yreka High School under her belt, longtime Mount Shasta resident Jennifer McKinnon says she’s excited to begin the year at Mount Shasta?High School.
Hired to replace former MSHS principal Jami Whedbee, who departed unexpectedly in February, McKinnon says she is aware of the controversy which has surrounded her position in the past. However, she looks forward to bringing a new positive energy to the principal’s office.
“I wasn’t here [for the controversy],” she said. “I wasn’t a part of it... so I come in with a fresh outlook. I’ve been here for the past couple of months, listening to the concerns of the staff, parents and students, so I have an idea of where we are and where we need to go.”
When asked the best part of being a high school principal, McKinnon responded, “My favorite part is the kids. I also enjoy working with the staff as a team to look for ways to make the school better for both the students and the community.”
One of McKinnon’s main focuses for the year will be the state accreditation process, which takes place once every six years. Also important is the expansion of the library and the addition of new classes, as well as Measure Q improvements, she says.
“It’s important to create an environment where students can be successful. When you believe in the abilities of the students and challenge them to find their own strengths – and celebrate these strengths as a group – that’s what makes education so exciting,” McKinnon says.
McKinnon graduated from UC Davis and moved to Mount Shasta in 1978. She taught math at YHS before taking time off when she had two sons, both of which went through the Mount Shasta school system and eventually graduated from MSHS.
In 1995, McKinnon went back to teaching full time. She worked to obtain her administrative credential and six years later took the position of education planning specialist, which is basically part school counselor, part vice principal at YHS, McKinnon explains. In 2005 she became the principal, and kept that position until July, when she was selected as the new MSHS principal.
“[McKinnon] comes highly recommended by numerous people that I know well,” said Siskiyou Union High School District board president Lori Harch. “She’s been very well received by students and staff, and I’m very optimistic we’ll have an excellent year at Mount Shasta High School.”
McKinnon says she’s looking forward to working where she lives and collaborating with the community to make the school “as terrific as it can possibly be.”