We're excited to announce new school principals and other new district leaders for the 2021-22 school year.
Our list will be updated. Please keep checking back.
- Meet Fuerza's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Lincoln's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Kamiakin's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Kamiakin's New Assistant Principal & Athletic Director
- Meet Ridge View's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Southgate's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Cottonwood's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Legacy High and Mid-Columbia Partnership's New Assistant Principal
- Meet Sunset View's New Assistant Principal
- MEET CHINOOK'S NEW ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
- Meet Southgate's Next Principal
- Meet Desert Hills' Next Principal
- Meet Amistad's New Co-Principal
- Meet Our Next Special Services Director
- MEet Canyon View's Next Principal
The new assistant principal of Fuerza Elementary is already a member of the Lobos family.
Gaby Rangel Epperson, a biliteracy specialist and behavior interventionist at the dual language school, replaces Angie Ozuna, who left to become an assistant principal in the Grandview School District.
“We are grateful that Gaby will continue being an asset to Fuerza by moving into a new role as assistant principal. Students and staff will continue to benefit from her expertise in biliteracy, PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) and more,” said Fuerza Principal Jaime Silva.
Rangel Epperson has worked in the Kennewick School District for more than 20 years, starting as a paraeducator in 2000. She became a teacher the following year and taught at Amistad Elementary, Park Middle School and Chinook Middle School before joining Fuerza’s staff in 2019. She’s also worked as a K-3 bilingual literacy coach and dual language facilitator in the district and she served as Fuerza’s summer school principal this past summer.
Rangel Epperson holds a master’s degree in education and literacy and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Washington State University. She also holds a residency principal certification from WSU.
Rangel Epperson is a KSD alum, graduating from Kennewick High.
A Pasco School District instructional coach and teacher will be Lincoln Elementary School’s new assistant principal.
Daniel Garza replaces Jacki Moore, who’s moving to Ridge View Elementary to become the Coyotes’ new assistant principal.
“Daniel is committed to sustaining strong student and staff relationships to create a positive, achievement-focused and collaborative school environment. His calm demeanor, sincerity and passion for students’ success will make him someone staff, students and families trust,” said Lincoln Principal Tony Langdon.
Garza has taught elementary school in the Pasco School District since 2013. Since 2017, he’s also served as an instructional coach.
He holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Grand Canyon University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Washington University.
An experienced school and district leader has been selected as the newest assistant principal at Kamiakin High School.
Steve Banda replaces Brandee Veitenheimer, who’s moving to Southgate Elementary to become the Dragons’ new assistant principal.
“Kamiakin High School is fortunate to have a new member joining with the depth and breadth of experience that Steve brings. He is excited and enthusiastic to meet with staff and students and get the 2021-22 school year going,” Kamiakin Principal Chris Chelin said.
Banda spent 15 years in the Moses Lake School District, including 10 years as an assistant principal and five years as special services administrator. Before that, he worked as a teacher and administration intern and substitute in the Richland School District.
Banda holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and professional development from Heritage University and bachelor’s degrees in science education and human biology from Eastern Washington University.
He also has an administration certification from Heritage.
An award-winning coach and educator will be Kamiakin High School’s new assistant principal and athletic director.
Kyle Cowan comes to Kamiakin from Portland Christian Schools, where he’s the director of athletics and facilities.
“Kyle brings a long history of athletic experience to Kamiakin, including being a teacher, coach and administrator for the last 19 years,” said Principal Chris Chelin. “Kamiakin is fortunate to have such a strong individual step in and continue the tradition of excellence.”
Cowan has served as the director of athletics and facilities at Portland Christian Schools since 2014. Before that, he worked as a teacher, coach and athletic director in the Stanfield School District, and as a teacher, coach, athletic director, vice principal and principal at East Linn Christian Academy in Lebanon, Ore. He’s won numerous awards, including the Oregon Athletic Directors Association Leadership Award in 2020 and the Oregon Athletic Director of the Year in 2017.
Cowan has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in leadership and educational administration from Capella University and a graduate teaching license in physical education from Corban University.
Cowan is replacing Casey Gant at Kamiakin. Gant is the new principal of Desert Hills Middle School.
The new assistant principal of Ridge View Elementary will be a quick study in her new role. Jacki Moore is already an assistant principal in the Kennewick School District – at Lincoln Elementary.
“We are so pleased Jacki will be joining our Ridge View family,” said Ridge View Principal Naomi Puckett. “Her educational experience, level of expertise, and passion for student success will complement our ongoing commitment toward student safety and academic growth.”
Moore came to Lincoln in 2011 as a reading specialist, and she also worked as a Learning Assistance Program (LAP) specialist and dean of students at the school before becoming the assistant principal in 2017. Before joining KSD, she taught at St. Patrick’s School in Pasco.
Moore holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Washington State University and an administration certification from WSU Tri-Cities.
She’ll replace Julio Blanco at Ridge View. Blanco is the new co-principal of Amistad Elementary.
An experienced school administrator will be Southgate Elementary’s new assistant principal.
Brandee Veitenheimer, currently an assistant principal at Kamiakin High School, is stepping into the role that opened when former Southgate assistant principal, Joe Jones, became principal.
“We are excited to welcome Brandee to the Southgate family,” Jones said. “We know that her many years of experience will provide staff and students with the support they need to have an amazing school year.”
Veitenheimer came to Kamiakin in 2010 as a math teacher, and she also worked as an instructional coach at the school before becoming an assistant principal in 2019. She served as summer school principal at Ridge View, Edison and Lincoln elementary schools in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
Veitenheimer holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary math education from Eastern Washington University, and a master’s degree in learning and technology and an educational leadership endorsement from Western Governors University
An experienced teacher and administrator who’s spent more than a decade working in the Kiona-Benton City School District is Cottonwood Elementary’s new assistant principal.
Alyce Budzeck is a great fit for the school, said Principal Alyssa Nesbit.
"We are excited to have Alyce join the Badger Team," Nesbit said. "Her student-centered approach, along with her commitment to support staff and families will blend nicely with Cottonwood's mission."
Budzeck joined Kiona-Benton City schools 2010, working as an elementary school teacher, dean of students and assistant principal in her years with the district.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development from Warner Pacific College and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Portland. She also holds an endorsement in educational leadership from Western Governors University.
Budzeck replaces Cheryl Culwell, Cottonwood's former assistant principal.
The new assistant principal of Legacy High School and Mid-Columbia Partnership is a familiar face in the Kennewick School District.
Travis Hatke has taught middle school English language arts and history in Kennewick schools since 2012, and he’s a district alum. He attended Vista Elementary, Desert Hills Middle School and Kamiakin High School.
He said he’s looking forward to stepping into the newly created dual role at Legacy and Mid-Columbia Partnership.
“I’m super excited for this new journey,” he said. “I’m looking forward to building relationships with staff, students and families, and to helping these children succeed and find their futures.”
Hatke taught at Park Middle School from 2012 to 2018 and then moved to Desert Hills. Before that, he taught at Discovery Middle School and New Horizons High School in Pasco.
He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Washington State University Tri-Cities and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central Washington University. He also holds a residency administrator certification from WSU Tri-Cities.
“We are really excited to have Travis on board. His diverse past experiences will be an asset to both the Legacy programs and Mid-Columbia Partnership. We expect his energy and passion for students to lead him to success in this position,” said Legacy Principal Paul Osborne.
Suzy Hudon may be switching schools, but she’s staying a Mustang.
The instructional coach at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School is joining Sunset View Elementary as the new assistant principal. She’s replacing Carol Sonderland, who’s retiring.
Both schools have Mustangs as mascots.
“I am beyond excited and blessed to join the Sunset View Elementary family. I’m looking forward to collaborating with their amazing staff and families to help support student success at Sunset View,” Hudon said.
Hudon has worked as an instructional coach at Horse Heaven Hills since 2016. She also filled in as an acting assistant principal at the end of the 2020-21 school year, served as a principal intern and summer school principal at the school, and as a summer school principal at Cascade Elementary.
She joined the district in 2011 as a teacher at Highlands Middle School, and before that taught at schools in Pasco and Salem, Ore.
Hudon has a bachelor’s in K-8 elementary education from Washington State University and a master’s degree in literacy from WSU Tri-Cities. She also holds an English as a Second Language endorsement from Western Oregon University and a principal certification from WSU Tri-Cities.
"Suzy's experience and positive energy aligns well with the Sunset View culture, where we have a student-first focus and believe all students are capable of success,” said Sunset View Principal Heidi Guizar. “She brings a strong instructional coaching background and experience implementing positive behavioral supports. We look forward to having Suzy as our newest Mustang and Treasure Hunter!"
Chinook Middle School’s new assistant principal is a Kennewick School District alum.
Jake Davis, who’s currently an administrator at Selah High School, graduated from Southridge High and did his student teaching in the district. He’s replacing Cathy Guajardo, who’s moving to Canyon View Elementary to become the principal.
“I am extremely excited to join the Chinook Middle School team,” Davis said. “I am looking forward to working with and collaborating with their amazing staff to support the successes of our students at Chinook.”
Davis has been Selah High’s assistant principal and director of athletics since 2018. He previously held that same position at Pasco High School from 2013 to 2018.
Before that, he worked as a science teacher and coach at Pasco High School and as a middle school teacher and coach in the West Grand School District in Kremmling, Colo.
Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in bio-kinesiology from Washington State University and master’s degrees in secondary education and educational administration from Grand Canyon University.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jake to the Wolfpack,” said Chinook Principal Kevin Pierce. “He is a great addition to our team and I predict that staff, students and parents will be impressed with the leadership he will bring to Chinook.”
Southgate Elementary’s next principal is already part of the Dragon family.
Joe Jones, currently serving as the assistant principal, has been selected to take over for Dr. Bob Smart, who’s retiring.
“Over the past couple of years, the Southgate community has become my home,” Jones said, adding that he looks forward to partnering with the school’s staff, families and community to prepare for the upcoming school year and to continuing to build on Southgate’s success.
Jones has served as Southgate’s assistant principal since 2019.
Before that, he spent nearly a decade in the Othello School District as a teacher and administrator, including three years as assistant principal of Hiawatha Elementary and a year as the principal. He started his career teaching in the Aldine Independent School District in Houston, Texas.
Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in history teaching from Brigham Young University, a master’s in educational administration from Lamar University and a school administration certificate from Whitworth University.
“We are excited to have Joe take over as principal at Southgate Elementary School,” said Rob Phillips, assistant superintendent of elementary education. “He has a firm understanding of Southgate students, staff and families after serving as the assistant principal for the past two years. We believe his strong leadership skills will fit in perfectly at Southgate.”
The Hawks will soon have a new leader.
Casey Gant has been chosen as the next principal of Desert Hills Middle School, replacing Principal Steve Jones, who’s retiring.
Gant is a familiar face in our district, as he’s been an assistant principal and athletic director at Kamiakin High School for the last nine years.
“I’m very excited about this new role. It’s a chance to continue the longstanding tradition of success at Desert Hills and build on that to continue to provide kids the best opportunities,” Gant said.
Gant has worked for 29 years in public education, including 22 years as an assistant principal and athletic director. He held that role at Mabton Junior/Senior High School from 1999-2001 and at Prosser High School from 2001-12 before making the move to Kamiakin.
Gant started his career as a teacher and coach in Mabton.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree in secondary administration and a principal certification from Central Washington University.
“We are very fortunate to have an individual within our district who has the qualifications and experience as an administrator to lead Desert Hills,” said Jack Anderson, assistant superintendent of secondary education. “We believe – and Casey believes – that he is a good fit, and he’ll work tirelessly to serve the staff, students and parents of the Desert Hills community.”
An experienced school administrator has been named co-principal of Amistad Elementary.
Julio Blanco, who’s currently the assistant principal at Ridge View Elementary, will work alongside longtime Amistad Principal Andy Woehler.
Woehler plans to retire in about 1 ½ years, and the co-principal arrangement will help with a smooth transition for students, families and staff.
“I’m completely excited to begin this new journey with our Amistad Elementary family,” Blanco said. “Together, we will strive to make a difference in our students’ lives. This begins with our staff and flows to our students, parents and into our community. I’m ready for this amazing journey, together as one.”
Blanco has been assistant principal of Ridge View Elementary since 2018.
Before that, he worked as a behavior intervention specialist (dean of students), testing facilitator and school counselor in the Pasco School District, and as a probation counselor at the Juvenile Justice Center.
Blanco holds a master’s degree in school counseling from Heritage University and a principal certification from Gonzaga University.
“We’re excited to bring Julio on board at Amistad. He has a wide range of skills and experience that will be perfect for Amistad students, staff and families,” said Rob Phillips, assistant superintendent of elementary education.
Amistad has about 710 students and is the largest elementary school in the Kennewick School District.
An experienced autism and behavior specialist who’s spent the last 11 years working with Kennewick School District students will be our district’s next director of special services.
Lexie Buschbach starts July 1, taking over for Becca Anderson.
“I feel incredibly honored to have been chosen to lead our Special Services Department, and I look forward to meeting the needs of our differently-abled students alongside our amazing special education staff,” Buschbach said.
Buschbach holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction: applied behavior analysis from Arizona State University and a principal certification from Washington State University. She’s a board-certified behavior analyst and a non-violent crisis intervention instructor.
She’s worked with KSD students since 2010, and before that worked for the state Division of Developmental Disabilities and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“Lexie’s knowledge of Special Services programs, her ability to problem-solve and collaborate to address challenging learning situations, and her vision for the Special Services Department have made her highly respected within the department and beyond,” said Matt Scott, assistant superintendent of curriculum, assessment and professional development. “We are excited to have Lexie continue to provide expertise and leadership in her new role.”
Canyon View Elementary's next principal is a familiar face in the Kennewick School District.
Cathy Guajardo, who’s currently serving as an assistant principal at Chinook Middle School, has been selected to take over for Mark Stephens, who’s retiring at the end of the school year.
"I am thrilled to have been chosen to lead Canyon View's school community and to support our students, staff and families,” Guajardo said.
She’s been an assistant principal at Chinook Middle School since 2016.
Before that, she worked as a district instructional coach and taught at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School and Cascade Elementary. She joined KSD in 1997.
“We are excited to have Cathy Guajardo as the new principal at Canyon View Elementary,” said Rob Phillips, assistant superintendent of elementary education. “Her many years of successful experience as an elementary teacher, GLAD coach and building administrator make her a perfect fit for our elementary team.”
Guajardo has a master’s degree in professional development from Heritage University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Washington University. She’s a National Board Certified Teacher, Project GLAD consultant and trainer, and Google Certified Teacher. She holds a principal certification from Heritage University.