VHS welcomes new APs


Priya Gregerson photos

Natalie Brink and Priya Gregerson

While walking the halls of the school for the first time, they felt the peculiar feeling of butterflies in their stomachs. Were they going to adjust well to the school? How would they get to know everyone? What if they forgot a teacher’s name? It was their first day at Vandegrift, but they weren’t freshman. They were the new assistant principals: Kenneth Debord and Amanda Toon.

“Me and Ms. Toon are just like freshmen here too, everything and everybody is new to us,” Debord said. “I was walking around in the halls just as nervous as any freshman that was on campus because I’m looking around and every face is brand new to me.”

“The thing that stood out to me first at Vandegrift — other than [the] amazing kids, supportive parents, great community — is that there’s an embedded culture here that is so strong and the foundation of it is such and important thing,” Toon said. “The story of how we were named, the value and the traditions behind that, gives me chills.”

Before working at LTISD, Debord worked at Judson high school teaching social studies and as a swim coach, where administrators encouraged him to get his masters and start working in school administration. He took their advice six years later, and he is now beginning his first job as an AP.

“At the time, I wasn’t ready to be done coaching,” he said. “I’ve been here for a month now, and everything’s been great. The first week of school has just been outstanding. I welcome anybody and everybody who wants to come and introduce themselves to me. If I had the time I’d do it to all 2,700.”

Toon has previously worked as a special education teacher and a coach. She went back to school to get her masters and became an AP at Hudson Bend Middle School

“It’s always good to do fresh things in your career because if you stay in one place for too long, then you’re not always learning new things,” she said. “I was ready to make the jump to high school, and I couldn’t think of a better place than Vandegrift. This is an amazing school and an amazing opportunity.”

“I want students to know that this isn’t just a job; this is my life”

Debord and Toon say they have had a wonderful start to their year, but they both share a  concern about working here. They are both worried about getting to know the student body and staff.

“That’s my biggest worry,” Toon said. “The worst thing is having to introduce yourself to somebody two or three time to remember their name. I don’t want that. I value people too much for that, so that’s my biggest concern: figuring out how to get to know everybody.”

Associate Principal Wendy Sturdevant said she looks forward to working alongside Toon and Debord. Sturdevant has worked at VHS for two years.

“When we come across issues and we’re trying to help students as we get bigger, it’s nice to have a new point of view to bring to the table,” Sturdevant said. “They bring a new energy, so we have a good collaborative team working together.”

This year, Debord is looking forward to meeting as many students as possible while Toon will try to know every student by their name and their needs. She said that in doing that she would surpass her expectations for herself.

“I want students to know that this isn’t just a job; this is my life,” Toon said. “I choose to be here and do what I do because I care about kids, and I think students don’t realize how much we care about them, but I always try to think about what is in the best interest of the kids I’m working with because I genuinely care.”