Westerman hired as LHHS principal

By Beth Reed
This article was published March 14, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

PEARCY -- The Lake Hamilton School Board hired Donald Westerman as the district's new high school principal during its monthly meeting on Monday.

Westerman has worked as special adviser to the assistant commissioner of learning services in the Arkansas Department of Education since Aug. 1, 2017. Just prior to that, he was the principal of Fountain Lake High School for four years. However, Westerman is no stranger to Lake Hamilton School District.

"I'm very excited to be back and really looking forward to being there," he told The Sentinel-Record. "About half of my career was spent at Lake Hamilton as the assistant principal at the junior high and then the high school. Before that, I was a junior high (agriculture) teacher.

"Being back in the community and working with great people is what I'm looking forward to the most. Lake Hamilton has an incredible set of administrators including Mr. (Shawn) Higginbotham and Mr. (Steve) Anderson -- I served as assistant principal to both."

Westerman said he recently had a good visit with a former classmate of his children, who all graduated from Lake Hamilton, and said it goes to show that "once a Lake Hamilton student, always a Lake Hamilton student."

"There are so many opportunities for our students," he said. "Lake Hamilton has so many great resources and is top to bottom a great place to work."

Anderson, the school district's superintendent, said the district is just as excited to have Westerman back on campus.

"When Mr. Stapleton let us know he was retiring, I worked with our instructional services director, Kristi Anderson, and with Mr. Higginbotham (assistant superintendent of finance and personnel) to come up with the qualities we would like to have in a high school principal," he said. "We also gave the staff an opportunity to communicate with us what they would like to see in a new principal and I held a listening forum with students in eighth through 12th grade. I asked the students what they would like to see and got some really good feedback."

Anderson said he also reached out to colleagues from across the state and a number of them in various aspects of administration suggested Westerman.

"He has an excellent reputation as a reformer, and is very well respected in areas of leadership and academic instruction," he said. "He was already on my mind, but the timing seemed terrible because he had just started working with the Department of Education. But because he is not with a district right now, he will be able to start working with Mr. Stapleton on April 2, ahead of the new school year.

"We were very pleased when he reached out to us about his interest in the position. We had looked at the list of very good applicants, but Mr. Westerman was head and shoulders above the rest. He brings with him institutional knowledge of Lake Hamilton, all of his kids graduated from here. We feel like it will be an easy transition for our staff and we know he loves these kids."

Local on 03/14/2018
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