Bend High School Principal HD Weddel, MS ’85, has been selected Oregon’s High School Principal of the Year by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA). He received the award from State School Superintendent Rob Saxton, a former classmate, at a surprise assembly at his school this spring.
HD Weddel is a graduate of Fort Vancouver High School, has a BS from Oregon State University, and holds a master’s degree from PSU. He was a teacher and coach for 25 years and was named an assistant principal of Bend High School in 2005, and principal in 2009. He started college with the goal of becoming a physical therapist and soon decided he would rather work on brains instead of bodies. He says he never thought he would move into administration.
HD Weddel is passionate about education, but notes there are many challenges in today’s schools, including higher enrollment with fewer teachers. In his 35 years, he has faced many of the same obstacles other Oregon schools are dealing with, including a tragic shooting at his school in February, 2014. Among his accomplishments, he finalized the school’s adoption of the International Baccalaureate Program, a rigorous pre-college program for juniors and seniors. In 2013, he earned the Bend-LaPine Administrator of the year award.
His philosophy of education is about building relationships. HD Weddle says, “I often ask young teachers ‘what’s going to keep you in this job?’, and if it’s anything but relationships, they aren’t going to make it. And I’ve been building relationships for 35 years and it seems like yesterday.”
His focus on relationships defines his practice as a principal and spills over to his volunteer work as a chaplain for the OSU athletic department. He has officiated at marriages, baptisms and a funeral.
“He has developed a culture of trust, a culture of acceptance, a culture of respect at Bend High that is second to none.” says Christopher Reese, Bend High School assistant principal.
“No one gets in this job to get awards, no one gets in this job to climb the ladder, people get in this job because they love kids. I get to be a part of that,” he says. “It’s a privilege, and an honor, and very, very humbling to be Principal of the Year in the state of Oregon. I believe Oregon is an incredibly great place to be a teacher.”
This is his last assignment in school administration. He is taking a newly-created position with Oregon State University as the chaplain for Mike Riley’s athletic department. His successor, was just announced: another GSE graduate Christopher Reese, MST ’03, IAL ’04.