Philomath High School
Philomath High School (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath High School students will welcome a new principal on campus Wednesday with the arrival of Brent Belveal, who is coming out of retirement to serve in an interim role for the remainder of the academic year, Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday said.

Former principal Mike Bussard will remain with the school district. Halliday has not publicly stated a specific reason for the change, citing strict privacy rules that the district has in place to protect staff and students.

Halliday limited comments on the situation to “I will be moving the skills of Mike Bussard to some district projects that need some attention.”

Halliday said she informed PHS staff of the change just before Thanksgiving break last week. Meanwhile, Belveal introduced himself to parents on Monday through email.

Mike Bussard, seen here at last spring’s PHS graduation, has been reassigned to a different position in the school district. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

“My passion and professional history is built around being a servant leader with the goal of helping students find their own best next steps,” Belveal said in a letter to parents. “I’ve always had an open door policy with the intent of hearing all perspectives to develop the best possible outcomes for all.”

Bussard was last in the PHS principal’s seat on Oct. 18. Assistant Principal Tony Matta took the reins in the weeks that followed with Halliday serving in a support role.

“I have a lot to learn about PHS and I will lean on Mr. Matta and the PHS team to find the best ways to serve the staff and students,” Belveal said.

Belveal’s teaching career over the years included a variety of business classes, such as business law, marketing, personal finance, entrepreneurship and computer applications. He also taught math and physical education and coached wrestling, football and baseball. After 25 years in classrooms, he moved into administration.

He worked as an assistant principal at West Albany High School for four years and then as the principal at South Albany High School for eight years.

In 2018, Belveal retired from the public school system and immediately went to work for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a program established to provide academic and social support designed to ensure students’ success in high school, college and beyond. Belveal’s two-year association with AVID included the roles of staff developer and consultant in Oregon, Washington and Utah.

Last year, Belveal took on the challenge of launching an alternative school for middle school students in Newport.

“I re-retired last June and planned to stay that way until Mr. Matta called to see if I could help,” Belveal said. “I coached football and wrestling and was a head wrestling coach for 20 years.”

Matta has strong connections to Greater Albany Public Schools and Belveal with two separate teaching and coaching stints at South Albany High.

Belveal was a 1976 graduate of Sweet Home High School and studied both education and business in college at Western Oregon and Oregon State. He and his wife, Candy, have two daughters and three grandchildren.


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