KAMIAH — The school year began last week with new principal Christine Cearley at Kamiah Elementary School (KES) and Kamiah Middle School (KMS). Cearley said she looked forward to meeting the students and getting to work with the staff.
Cearley and her husband, Rick, moved to Kamiah before the job was advertised. She wanted her daughter, Nina, to be able to attend in-person high school, so they moved to Lewiston (from Oakdale, Calif.) for the 2020-21 school year. Cearley and her husband then looked for a small cozy, rural community in Idaho to settle in for retirement and fell in love with Kamiah.
“The best thing about Kamiah is the friendly nature of the people who live here and, of course, the beauty,” said Cearley.
Kamiah School District has tried various configurations of principals for its schools in the past few years, settling on a shared principal for KES and KMS. Cearley said she is enjoying “collaborating on vision instruction and discipline” with KES head teacher Shannon Engledow. Cearley said Engledow “really takes care of her staff.”
In preparing for the school year ahead, Cearley said she spent a good part of the summer reviewing student files to help identify students who are at risk. She has reached out to the parents of these students, planning programs for them to be successful. Cearley has also met with other teachers to talk about district assessment programs and interventions. She has attended all of the Kamiah school oard meetings to learn about the district’s leadership goals and vision.
Cearley describes her philosophy of education as “being intensely focused on preparing all of our students for a 21st century world. This mainly means our students must be literate in reading and analyzing information; highly capable of understanding how numbers work; very capable of being able to express themselves; written, oral, etc.”
She believes “Every child is a precious gift from God who deserves to be loved, nurtured and taught. The school district team must work together to closely monitor our students’ progress over the 13 years they are in the care of the Kamiah schools.”
Cearley acknowledges the poverty in the Kamiah area.
“We must be very sensitive to the fact that many students and their families are experiencing trauma and stress from being in generational poverty; therefore, we must go the extra, extra mile to help them, teach them and care for them in order to break this cycle,” she concluded.
With about 25 years of experience in public education in California, she has worked as a middle school principal, curriculum director and interim superintendent. She also taught sixth grade and alternative education for high school students. Additionally, Cearley has served as a board member for a charter school and is a professor, teaching online classes at National University for teachers who are pursuing their administrative/principal credential.
Her educational background includes a BA in liberal studies from Cal State San Francisco, followed by her teaching credential for multiple subject classrooms from Chapman University. She also earned master’s degrees from Chapman in both educational administration and curriculum and assessment. She also has a secondary authorization to teach history/social science up to ninth grade. When she first moved here last spring, the Kamiah Rural Fire District hired her as their clerk, a part-time position that she is enjoying. She is impressed with the work they are doing.
“It is great being involved with the community services for Kamiah,” said Cearley.
She enjoys reading, travel, movies, history, politics, art and learning and spending time with her three kids and her husband, Rick. Her son, Daniel, is a real estate agent in Oakdale. Her daughter, Kim, works at Vigs’s Health Food Store in Lewiston and Nina is a senior at Lewiston High School.
Cearley would like people to know that she plans to retire in Kamiah, so she is invested in the community thriving.
“I hope my work at the district will help empower our residents to be successful, healthy and happy. I love our country and am a proud patriot,” Cearley concluded.