After screening 10 applicants Walla Walla School District officials have chosen two local candidates as finalists for the principal position at Garrison Middle School.

Kim Doepker and Mindy Meyer, both district employees, are finalists, according to a news release.

Garrison Principal Robert Elizondo has accepted the Touchet School District superintendent position and he leaves the Walla Walla district June 30.  

Doepker is principal of Blue Ridge Elementary School. She was assistant principal at Pioneer Middle School prior to her leadership role at Blue Ridge. Doepker also has classroom teaching experience and worked as a learning specialist and literacy coach.

She will bring those experiences to the Garrison table if chosen for the job, Doepker said today.

In her decade at Blue Ridge, she’s built strong relationships with staff, using her instructional and coaching background in helping teachers grow professionally and problem solve as a group effort, Doepker noted.

If she gets the new job she will listen to the needs at Garrison and use the same techniques to bring about a culture of togetherness, she added.

Meyer is assistant principal at Walla Walla High School. She was project director for the Center for Strengthening the Teacher Profession in Tacoma, as well as a Wa-Hi English teacher for 14 years.

Strengths she can carry to Garrison include a great deal of secondary school experience and strong communication skills, as well as knowledge in mentoring and building support for new teachers, Meyer said.

As far as middle school students go, she’s seen the high school future they face, she added.

“I know where middle school kids are headed, what supports they need,” including creating time to support students’ social, emotional, study skills, testing and life experience needs, she said this morning.

Parents and staff can meet the candidates Thursday from 4-5 p.m., at the Garrison Middle School library. Attendees will be asked to complete candidate feedback cards and be present, if possible, for both candidate sessions. Interpretation services will be available.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.