Yvette Harpe first joined the Payson Unified School District in 2004 to serve as Rim Country Middle School assistant principal and athletic director.
She left the district — but not Payson — in 2013 to be a principal in Maricopa.
“I took a principal position in Maricopa in 2013. I later moved to a middle school principal position in Flagstaff Unified School District,” Harpe said.
Explaining her departure, she added, “I felt that I needed to leave PUSD so I could get additional experience and serve as a principal. At the time there weren’t any openings in Payson for principals.”
Harpe returned to Payson three years ago to live with her family full-time instead of commuting during the week. She also returned to work for PUSD as a fifth grade teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School.
Asked what lessons her experiences bring to the job as PHS assistant principal, Harpe said, “I feel that being in the classroom recently has given me insight on the challenges teachers face in the classroom and doing distance learning.
“While I was in Maricopa and Flagstaff, I received training in teaching strategies and teacher evaluation systems. I can support the teachers with new ideas for teaching strategies and improving student achievement. Having been in our district in prior years helped me build relationships with several families. I am starting to see former students’ children getting close to high school. The parents know me and that I do have their child’s best interest in mind.”
She said one of Payson schools’ strong components is the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.
“I have used the program and understand the components that make it successful. In my position, it is essential to create relationships and help students learn from mistakes and how to better themselves. This last year I continued my Google training and passed the Level I Google Educator test. As we use Google Classroom as a major component of distance learning, I’ll be able to help teachers with Google tools.”
There are several teachers still in the district that Harpe worked with before. She was on the leadership team with Superintendent Linda Gibson when she was a lead teacher at PCS.
“I am excited to meet and work with the new staff as well,” she said.
Discussing the role of assistant principal, Harpe said, “This year the principal and assistant principal are the administrative team that will lead PHS, PCS, and PCSO. The high schools are coming together more to provide learning opportunities for all high school students.”
The assistant principal position oversees student discipline, attendance, student supervision, and conducts teacher evaluations, she said. On top of these four main areas there are many day-to-day operations for which she is responsible.
“Honestly the list is long, but all things that I have experience doing. With COVID-19 being in the mix, I see my position supporting distance learning from both the teacher and student side. Students are required to attend the Google Meet classes until we are allowed to return to campus. I’ll be reaching out to students to find out why they aren’t attending those meets and help them find solutions to any roadblocks,” Harpe said.
She has maintained involvement in student sports since she first came to Payson. For the past three years she has been involved as an event worker — working the gate, managing the volleyball clock and basketball book throughout the year.
“I will be attending many of the sports and other extracurricular activities as an administrator. We supervise students and fans, but I also enjoy watching the students perform in the activities they enjoy,” Harpe said.