Annex principal/superintendent retires; Voile to replace him


Recently retired Annex School Superintendent/Principal Steve Bishop, left, and taking over the position as of July 1, Kim Voile, were photographed together at the school’s June 27 STEAM Camp open house. Bishop held the position for the past 10 years, and Voile has been working on plans for the new school year since being hired in late March. Photo by Philip Janquart
By: 
Philip A. Janquart
Steve Bishop started out in the gymnasium before darting back and forth from one classroom to another, then back to the gymnasium.
 He was busy helping to prepare for Annex Charter School’s annual STEAM Camp open house, which was held Thursday, June 27.
 He has led the school in a dual role as principal and superintendent for a decade, but decided some time ago that the 2023-24 school year would be his last.
 “This is my 10th year, which is very unusual for superintendents; usually it’s about a three-year deal and then it’s a move on kind of thing,” he said. “But Annex was a good fit for me. The board was very supportive, and I really like the kids and families here, and we have a good staff.”
 Bishop graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1978 and was immediately hired at a La Grande elementary school where he taught fourth grade for about six years.
 He later moved on to the Ontario School District where he served in various capacities over a 27-year period, starting with Lindbergh Elementary, which turned out to be a challenging experience.
 “Lindbergh isn’t even a school anymore; it’s OCDC (Oregon Child Development Coalition),” he explained. “When I taught there, there were a lot of struggles in that part of the community, as far as drugs and those kinds of things and it was very, very difficult.”
 Bishop left the teaching profession for about two years at a private business before re-entering the classroom at Alameda Elementary in Ontario where he eventually transitioned from a classroom teacher to the library where he taught technology and computers.
 He also taught industrial technology at the middle school level.
 “I did a lot of different things and that really helped me for being a principal,” he said. “The more experiences you have in different areas, the more you can relate to that teacher and what they are going through with their unique assignments. And, hopefully, it helped me empathize and understand those different roles.”
 Annex Charter School was originally a public school, according to Bishop, who said administrators had to make a decision on whether to close the school due to low student numbers or transition to a charter school, which would allow more students to enroll.
 “In going to the charter, they were able to take anyone from Oregon and so when I first came here, the numbers kind of varied,” he said. “I remember that we had three teachers and one instructional assistant and about 55 kids, so they were kind of on the verge of deciding if they were going to keep it going or not. The previous superintendent had obtained a big federal grant for charter schools that kept things going. I remember the first year, I was afraid to spend money on anything because our budget was just so tight.”
 The charter school model proved a success over subsequent years, with students even sent to the Weiser School District.
 “During my 10 years, we of course sent kids to Weiser because of our proximity to the high school,” he said. “We had 42 kids in their system last year, which is the most we’ve ever had, so that was very cool. We got up to 90 kids here at one point. We weren’t quite that high this year, but it’s worked out really well as far as people that live up on the slope that want to bring their kids here, but aren’t in our attendance area. It has worked well for them because, proximity-wise, it’s actually closer to bring them here than Ontario.”
 Though he is retiring, Bishop said he doesn’t plan on sitting around.
 “I have a ton of projects,” he said. “I grew up on a farm, so I like old farm equipment and I’ve got several projects with that, and I’ve got a few acres that I’ll be farming, so it’s going to be a lot of hands-on stuff instead of doing paperwork and things like that.”
 He added that he and wife Robin, who is also a retired educator, plan on doing some traveling.
 Bishop credited others for his success at Annex Charter School over the last decade.
 “We’ve had a lot of success the last 10 years and it’s been because of everyone working together and there are so many people that have supported us; it’s hard to name them all, but some of my fondest memories are when we had dinners here, fundraising dinners ... we’ve had community come from Ontario, Payette, Fruitland, New Plymouth, and, of course, Weiser is huge in supporting us. 
 “And then, of course, Joe Malay and Rod Panike both went to school here and they support us every year with the Ho-Ho Express, so they’ve got a real vested interest here. I’ve had some great board members. Many of our staff members have just really worked hard to make this school a community and I think that’s the part that I’ll miss the most, you know, those connections we had with people in the community.”
 

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