By Don Backman
Jill Ingram, a long-time Tillamook resident, is the new Tillamook High School Principal. Ingram comes to the position of Principal after serving Tillamook School District as a Special Education Teacher, Dean of Students, Tillamook High School Assistant Principal, and most recently, the district Special Education Director. “I’m excited. I missed connecting with the students,” Principal Ingram explained, speaking about the change from Special Education Director to THS Principal over coffee at Five Rivers Coffee Roasters. “That’s a big part of why I got into education. Connecting with the kids.”
“It is a different lens,” she said, talking about the principal’s point of view. “As a principal, you are thinking of the atmosphere you want to create (in the school) and how to help students want to attend. As a VP, a big part of your duties involve student behavior so you spend a lot of time thinking about being preventative.”
Many locals will know Jill Ingram from her growing up in the community. “I am super excited. Between having gone to school there and being the principal, it feels really good to be finding my base.” Ingram, who moved to Tillamook when she was three, is rooted in the community and graduated from Tillamook High. “I attended Liberty, South Prairie, TJHS, and THS.” Growing up, Ingram was involved in 4H, FFA, volleyball, and golf. “Fun fact — my high school team won the golf state championship my senior year,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed riding horses, playing golf, hunting, camping, and spending time outdoors — all of which I still do today.”
Starting any new job is challenging, and starting as a high school principal can be especially daunting. “I want to improve the career pathways and figure out how to get the kids into the right classes,” Jill stated when asked about her biggest goals. “Build community trust. Covid was hard. I want THS to be the heart of the community. We need to communicate well and be transparent.” She went on to explain, “I want us to be in a place where we are offering as many opportunities as we can.”
Ingram commented that the outgoing Principal, Cristy Hartford, created a great many good things that are still in place. However, there are always challenges. “I want to work on the skills of attendance, such as being there and being on time that are required in the workforce.” Currently, the offerings in Natural Resources are expanding with the addition of classes such as Veterinary Assisting. These classes give the students deeply interested in those areas additional opportunities.
“We can have three counselors this year. That will go a long way toward helping students.” The addition of a third counselor will help address special student needs and help them access more resources in the community. “Covid isolated students. It is really good to see kids back in school. It is good to see activities continue. I want to put things in place that make kids want to be there.”
Principal Ingram went on to explain, “Career pathways, we need to get better at figuring out how to get kids into the right classes at THS. Kids could take more dual credit classes.” Dual credit classes mean they are getting credit for high school and also college credits. Ingram also discussed the need for readying students for options other than college, such as apprenticeships in the trades. “I want to be in a place where we are offering as many opportunities as we can.”
Ingram attended Oregon State for her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business Management. After moving back home to Tillamook, she needed work and tried out substitute teaching. “I quickly realized I had a passion for teaching and went back to school at Pacific to get my Masters in Teaching.” She is also well connected to the local community. “I am currently serving on the 4H Leaders Association board, am an assistant coach on the THS Trap Team, participate in the local Trap Team league, and actively support our local youth as much as possible.”
“I have two amazing daughters who attend our local schools and love living in this community as much as I do. My husband Chris has strong ties to the dairy community and is very passionate about the work he does as the head herdsman of C & C Dairy.”
Assuming the mantle of the principal of a busy and active high school like THS demands a lot of time and commitment. Jill brings her years of commitment to the district and her wide experience in education and her connection to the community to the position. Her excitement, energy, and determination are very evident.