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Kalmiopsis’ beloved dean leaving post for principal job

David Lee, his son Noah, 6, and the rest of the family will be moving to Hillsboro. The Pilot/Lorna Rodriguez

Starting Oct. 1, the halls at Brookings’ Kalmiopsis Elementary School will no longer ring out with happy shouts of “Mr. Lee! Mr. Lee!” as students rush up to the well-dressed Dean of Students David Lee.

Lee, who also works as the math coach at the school, has accepted a position as a principal at Jackson Elementary School in Hillsboro, one of that district’s highest performing schools, according to Lee. 

His last day at Kalmiopsis is Friday, Sept. 28. His first day at Jackson is Monday, Oct. 1.


“I’m really excited,” Lee said. “It’s cool that you can come from a little place like Brookings … we get trained so well that we can go up and run a school in a huge district. But I’m really sad to leave here.”

David Lee’s wife, Joanne, a fourth-grade teacher at Kalmiopsis, and their two sons will stay in Brookings until December.

Jackson Elementary is a kindergarten through six school that serves about 500 students.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Lee said. “Mrs. (Helena) Chirinian isn’t going anywhere, and neither is Mrs. (Sheryl) Lipski so there’s no place to move. I’ve done this for three years now, and there’s no principal spot opening up any time soon.”

But he will be greatly missed. 

“David’s the kids’ hero,” Kalmiopsis Elementary School Principal Helena Chirinian said. “The running joke between the two of us is I’m chopped liver. I get one out of 10 ‘Mrs. Chirinianes!’ at most (from students). … He gets all of them.

“He relates really well to (students), and he adores them. I’m going to really miss working with him.”

 Brookings-Harbor School District Superintendent Brian Hodge will miss always being able to count on Lee, and seeing his costumes on school dress up days.

“He was a really good assistant to Helena Chirinian,” Hodge said. “I think they were basically partners. She really relied on him. According to Helena, he’s an innovative thinker. He can look at situations, think outside the box and help keep things current.”

Hodge said the district is in the process of deciding how to replace Lee.

“We want to make sure that we do it right.,” Hodge said. “We’re not sure of exactly what we’re going to do. We may be calling someone back for a position. … We’ve had discussions at the administration level and at the (Brookings-Harbor School) Board. ... It hasn’t happened yet. I assume early next week we’ll be making some calls. We would like to have somebody if at all possible, by Oct. 1 because Kalmiopsis is a large elementary school.” 

Lee’s fondest memories of Kalmiopsis include being one of the earliest members of the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program, which rewards good choices. He helped design shirts, and made videos that are posted on the district’s website.

Lee worked for Brookings-Harbor School District for six years; three years as an English as a Second Language director, one year as a third-grade teacher and two years as dean of students.

Before teaching in Brookings, Lee taught in the California Central Valley. This will be his 12th year in education.

“The kids at K-School are amazing,” Lee said. “I’m definitely going to miss those guys. When you live in a small town and you know those guys and they know you, it’s hard to walk away.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I never could have done this without my time here. I’m thankful to everybody.” 


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