Two new administrators are joining the Hanford Joint Union High School District.

The district has hired Katy Culver as the new assistant principal at Sierra Pacific High School, replacing Greg Henry, who is now the new principal. Ben Stidman is the district’s new director of maintenance and operations.

“They’re both very qualified,” said Ward Whaley, director of administrative services for the district. “I think they’re going to do a good job here.”

Culver and Stidman were both officially hired by the school board earlier this week.

Culver has some previous experience with the district. She was an English teacher at Hanford West in 2012 and 2013. After that, she worked at Coalinga High School as a dean for one of the schools.

“Being a former teacher here, I think she’s going to understand some of the curriculum initiatives we’re working on,” Whaley said. “I think her previous experience is going to give her a good start to work administratively.”

Over the past two years, Stidman worked at the Woodlake Unified School District as a night supervisor, where he had to oversee facilities and maintenance crews. He also has some prior experience working in construction for private company Allen Engineering.

“This is a perfect fit for him because he already has some experience in this area and he knows how to deal with employee issues,” Whaley said. “He knows things already that will be helpful here.”

Culver and Stidman talked with us about their new positions, goals and how the experience is going so far.

Question: How do you feel about your new position?

Culver: I am very excited to be the new assistant principal. There is a lot to learn before school starts and I am going to do my best to ensure that I am well-prepared. I am very happy to be a part of this district because it has always done so much that is right for students like Instructional Rounds to give teachers a different perspective on strategies, Kagan strategies to improve the collaboration, creativity and communication between students and the use of technology to prepare them to be successful in their lives after they graduate.

Stidman: I’m nervous and excited all at the same time and I look forward to bringing a positive energy to the table.

Q: Why did you decide to apply for this position?

Culver: This is the only district that I feel is truly doing what is best for students on a daily basis, everywhere. From the district office to the classified staff, everyone has the students’ best interests as their No. 1 priority. This is a district that is setting their students up for success and I want to be a part of it.

Stidman: It was a great opportunity to advance my career and the idea of making a difference excited me.

Q: What experience do you bring to the job?

Culver: I have been a teacher for seven years and in education for a total of nine years. I have taught all grade levels of high school English, coached, been an AVID teacher, ran ASB, been a department head and been a dean of students. The best experience I can bring with me though is that of my parents. They are both classified employees who work for Fresno County school districts, my mom as an office manager and my father as a custodian/bus driver. They taught me the importance of working with all employees and valuing each one because without everyone, the school can’t function.

Stidman: I have a construction and mechanical background, along with experience in maintenance, operations and transportation from another school district.

Q: How has the experience been so far?

Culver: It has been wonderful. I have hit the ground running and met so many staff members who are all so willing to help and answer my many questions. I am even more excitedly anxious to see what my first year will hold as well as the many years to come. I have already been made to feel like I am part of the Golden Bear family.

Stidman: The experience has been great. I feel like I’m part of a team with a common goal and not just an individual within an organization.

Q: What do you see as your biggest challenges and how do you plan to face them?

Culver: My biggest challenges would be just settling in and becoming familiar with everyone and everything. Every school is different as far as procedures and protocols are concerned, so in order to overcome these challenges, I will need to ask a lot of questions. Everyone here has been so helpful. I am sure that this obstacle will be easily overcome with time.

Stidman: My biggest challenge will be coming up to speed on the workings of the district and their needs as they relate to maintenance and operations. I also feel that transportation is such a huge responsibility that will require my immediate attention. Scheduling routes, student safety and foggy day schedules are my primary concerns. However, I still feel the district has a good team and by being involved with that team, we will be ready for the students to return to school.

Q: What are your goals for the near future?

Culver: A goal of mine is to assist Sierra Pacific in continuing to excel in all areas: sports, academics, competitions, technology, etc. I want to help in whichever manner is necessary to ensure all students and staff are successful. Sierra Pacific is doing great things, and I want to make sure I am a resource and support to whomever may need it.

Stidman: To make my transition into the district as smooth as possible so that the focus never becomes maintenance or operations but remains on the students’ education and providing a safe environment.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or jluiz@hanfordsentinel.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @JosephL_HS.

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