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Stephenson begins third year as assistant principal PDF Print E-mail


• Leader & Times

Liberal High School Assistant Principal Joshua Stephenson talks about his time so far at LHS and what he is excited about regarding the upcoming school year.

Q: Could you give me some background on yourself? (i.e. how long you've been in education, when you started working at LHS, etc.)

A: This year will mark my third year as an assistant principal at Liberal High School and my 21st year in education. Our family is “all in” when it comes to education and serving our community. My wife, Mary, is a first grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary in addition to being the boys’ and girls’ swim coach for Liberal High School. My oldest son, TC, will be a freshman at Liberal High School, and my youngest son, Jace, will be an 8th grader at Eisenhower Middle School. 

Originally from Greensburg, our family was happy to move back to region from Southern California to be back closer to family. In my time working in education, I’ve been fortunate to have worked at every level of education from Pre-K to 4-year college. I have been an adapted and regular physical education teacher, middle school dean, assistant principal and principal, preschool director, and now an assistant principal at LHS. In addition, one of the greatest opportunities in education I’ve had before joining USD 480 was my role as the service learning coordinator for the Las Virgenes school district in Southern California helping create service learning guidelines, curriculum and graduation requirements for all 12,000 students, and being a regional representative for the Association of California School Administrators, both while being a site principal. 

One of the things I have enjoyed most about living in Liberal is the opportunity to coach again. I’ve coached football and baseball at both the high school and college levels including McPherson College, Los Angeles Valley College, Goodland High School for football and getting to be the president and regional representative for Newbury Park Pony Baseball and Pony Baseball Southern California with some of the best teams and players in the country. I’ve had the opportunity to coach more than 75 football players who have signed NCAA Division I, and 28 who have played in the NFL. In addition, I’ve had three baseball players play Major League Baseball. One of my biggest passions is helping athletes/students achieve their dreams. I currently coach baseball for Liberal’s Rattlers program and help athletes in any way I can.  

Q: With the new school year starting soon, what are you most excited about there at LHS?

A: Personally I feel that this is probably the most excited I’ve been to start a school year in the past decade. One of the things that I’m most excited about is to working with such a dedicated and talented group of administrators that make up our administrative team at Liberal High School. 

First, getting to work with someone who is as passionate about not only Liberal High School, but Liberal as a community as Ashley Kappelmann is a great opportunity. In addition, having such talented people as Troy McCarter and Scott Hinkle join Clairinda Weatherwax and I from last year’s team has been seamless and I can’t wait to see all of the accomplishments this team will make this year. I feel that this is one of the strongest teams I’ve been a part of in my 21 years in education. 

Second, Liberal High School is truly a special place that is comprised of a true team with their focus being on how to make each and every student successful. Third, we are fortunate to have a tremendous group of new staff joining our team and I can’t wait to see what talents and ideas they will bring to enhance our LHS team. 

Finally, I am really looking forward to showing our staff and students when they return all of the changes and improvements that have been made to our campus including the addition of our new East Campus.  

Q: With the bond project being completed (including the renovations there at LHS), what excites you the most about all that work going on?

A: This summer, I’ve been one of the few fortunate ones who has gotten to see the construction process for both the main office at LHS and the development of the new East Campus. Seeing the changes that have been occurring on a daily basis has been a great experience. 

The first thing that comes to mind is the tremendous opportunities we are going to be providing to all of our students K-12 with some of the best facilities in Kansas. For a student to say they were educated in Liberal has always been something to be proud of. With the addition of the new campuses and the improvements to Liberal High School, combined with the tremendous support of our community, the state of Kansas and the nation are now seeing USD 480 as one of the most innovative school districts in the region, if not the country.  

Q: What are you most excited about regarding have the east campus as part of LHS?

A: I’m most excited about all of the opportunities that having East Campus is going to provide our staff and students in regards to new ways to expand our curriculum and elective experiences. Obviously having teachers and students being able to work in new facilities is exciting. East Campus will have our new LHS Student Store, which is part of our CTE marketing pathway, where students will be developing products, apparel, and other items for the community to purchase and to help spread LHS spirit throughout the region. In addition, the opportunity to create rooms and facilities that will be utilized by all departments in Liberal High School means our students will have the opportunity to have even more enriching experiences during their time at LHS.  

Q: USD 480 was recently announced as one of the districts that will take part in the Kansans CAN redesign. As assistant principal there at LHS, how does that make you feel?

A: In my time as an administrator, including at schools where I have been a principal, one of the things I tell my staff is that we want to be pioneering in everything we do. If we focus on what’s best for students and not concern ourselves with obstacles that can get in our way, but how we “CAN” do it, you can have an impact that will truly last for decades. This is one of those opportunities. Having the ability to truly look at how to best design the educational experience for students that can have an impact on an entire state is something that our staff will never forget. I am truly honored to be part of the process and can’t wait to get started. We will be “launching” very quickly and we’ll be working diligently this year to accomplish some lofty goals and I can’t wait to get started.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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