The Payson school board -- at its Monday evening board meeting --amed veteran Payson and Pine educator Kathe Ketchem as the new principal of the Payson Center for Success.
Ketchem replaces Monica Nitzsche who was appointed May 23 to serve as principal of Rim Country Middle School.
In selecting Ketchem, the board followed the recommendation of district administrator Sue Myers, and a panel that interviewed eight candidates.
"(Ketchem) is an experienced teacher and educator who has curriculum, grant-writing and administrative experience," said Myers.
Myers -- a former teacher, principal and superintendent in the Pine-Strawberry Elementary District -- hired Ketchem in 1984 to teach kindergarten in Pine. At the time, Ketchem was also a reading teacher at the middle and high schools.
Throughout her career in Pine, Ketchem has taught nearly every grade and subject, and was a mentor teacher before replacing Myers about 10 years ago as the principal-superintendent of the district.
"She is a lifelong learner," Myers said.
Ketchem said she was thrilled with her appointment and was looking forward "to working with a staff that is incredible and learning from them."
Last spring, Ketchem announced that she was stepping down from her position due to health problems.
At the time, she was considering retirement, "I needed to remove some stress from my life," Ketchem said.
Ketchem said she understands that serving as principal of PCS will have its challenges, but they are manageable and the job demands are different.
Pine-Strawberry is a kindergarten through eighth-grade declining-enrollment school in midst of severe budget problems.
Earlier in the year, the Pine- Strawberry School Board agreed to make budget cuts of more than $60,000.
They included eliminating a part-time librarian, reducing music, band and computer classes, and combining grades two and three into one multi-age classroom.
While Ketchem will still be required to design a budget at PCS, she probably won't face the same budget shortages in the Pine-Strawberry district.
"The challenges will be (at PCS) but on a smaller scale," Ketchem said. "I'm also looking forward to returning to work with the older, high-school students."
PCS is an alternative school for students 16 to 21 years who do not fit into the high school mainstream. The school is known for its commitment to new technology. Because of the small number of students, instruction is more individualized than it is in traditional classroom.
The PCS faculty also works closely with the business community to introduce students to career training, work skills and academic accomplishments.