All things considered, this might be the perfect time for a change of leadership at Rogers High School.
Principal Lori Wyborney has set a high bar, but now she has a chance to make an even bigger difference in her new role overseeing the entire Rogers attendance area.
Now it’s John Hammil’s chance to follow in her footsteps, though Wyborney herself says he will do even better than that.
“I get pretty riled up about things, but John is a lot less like that,” Wyborney said. “But he’s just as passionate as I am, and I think that’s something the staff will appreciate.”
An assistant principal and dean of students at Rogers since 2013, Hammil has dealt mostly with curriculum issues. However, he also has experience in student services at Rogers and other schools.
In that role, Hammil has taken the lead in hiring and evaluating staff and creating the master schedule. However, he has gone beyond that.
Hammil has helped craft policies and procedures to reduce student failure rate, implemented restorative practices and organized staff training on how to deal with the impacts of childhood trauma.
“John has a great heart for students,” said Superintendent Adam Swinyard.
Those practices may become even more important as Rogers and other schools emerge from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve never been in a community that takes so much pride in helping each other,” said Hammil, who previously worked in Puyallup and districts in Nebraska, Utah and New Mexico before moving to Spokane in 2008.
Hammil earned his bachelor’s degree in education, specializing in social studies, at Pacific Lutheran University in 1996. He earned a master’s in educational administration at the University of Puget Sound in 2002, following studies at Nebraska-Omaha.
As an assistant principal at Garry Middle School from 2011 to 2013, Hammil said he’s felt a “sense of belonging” in northeast Spokane, one that grew since the COVID-19 pandemic struck 13 months ago.
While helping deliver food to needy families, Hammil saw first-hand that schools have a critical role helping families and students recover from the pandemic and getting back to normal this fall.
“The need here is even greater than before,” Hammil said.
A realignment of the senior leadership at Spokane Public Schools could offer broader response for Rogers and the surrounding area.
Under Swinyard, the district is making significant organizational changes.
Instead of being organized by grade level, the school directors will oversee a high school and all the schools that feed into it.
“We’re confident that this model will give us a better sense of community and collaboration among the high schools and middle schools,” Swinyard said.
Wyborney, who has been at Rogers since 2007 and principal since 2010, will oversee the school’s entire attendance area.
“It’ll be an easy transition,” said Wyborney, who has entrusted Hammil with some of the school’s most important functions.
“I’m filling some huge shoes, but I’m lucky to have her around,” Hammil said of Wyborney. “Her passion and her vision has ignited a commitment to do great things here.”
At the same time, Hammil has carved his own identity with the staff.
“Change is hard,” Wyborney said. “But John is the right person for where Rogers needs to go next.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.