Clawson, Royal Oak schools welcome new administrators

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 26, 2022








CLAWSON/ROYAL OAK — Come fall, students will see three new administrators in the Clawson and Royal Oak public school districts.

Clawson Public Schools recently hired a familiar face to serve as principal of its middle and high schools after it promoted the former principal of both to the position of superintendent. Royal Oak Schools also hired a new middle school principal.

Billy Shellenbarger will begin his new role as superintendent of Clawson Public Schools on Aug. 13, the day after Superintendent Tim Wilson’s final day on Aug. 12.

Wilson announced his intention to retire during the Jan. 17 school board meeting after serving for the last four years. He said his decision to retire was precipitated by family matters in his life; namely, that many close family members have relocated to Florida.

Wilson, during the same meeting that he announced his retirement, recommended to the board members that they consider Shellenbarger to serve as his replacement, saying he felt Shellenbarger was fit to make “tough calls” and that he was “one of the best administrators I’ve ever worked with” in his approximately 30 years in education.

The Clawson Board of Education gathered input on what the Clawson community wished to see in the next superintendent and hired a search consultant from the Michigan Association of School Boards to assist with the hire.

Shellenbarger was the sole internal candidate who the school board interviewed for the position on April 18.

He was named principal of Clawson High School in 2018, and, in 2020, he became principal of Clawson Middle School as well. He served as the high school boys varsity basketball coach from 2008 to 2012 and was voted MAC Conference Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

Shellenbarger began his career at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, where he taught English and was an intervention specialist. From 2014 to 2018, he served as assistant principal of Northville High School.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and physical education and a post-baccalaureate certification in English and physical education from Saginaw Valley State University. He received a Master of Arts degree in K-12 administration from Michigan State University.

“Tim (Wilson) came into my office one day and explained that he thought he would be on the cusp of retiring and asked if I would be interested in becoming a superintendent,” Shellenbarger said. “I took the summer to think about it.”

After discussing the move with his family, he said he decided that it was “absolutely the right path,” although he had previously never considered it, as he said he “always had the mindset,” passion and goal of being a high school principal.

Shellenbarger will be at the helm of a $55 million bond approved by Clawson voters to construct new buildings and reconfigure the district. He said he has already established close relationships with the contractors to ensure that all parties are “on the same page.”

He said that he “easily” could see himself retiring from the position of Clawson Public Schools superintendent, because he loves the community.

Shellenbarger also led the search for his replacement. The position oversees approximately 700 students in two buildings — approximately 300 in the middle school and 400 in the high school.

The administrative team interviewed approximately 60 candidates, most of whom were current principals at the middle school or high school level, in a three-round process, he said.

“In the final round, we had two incredibly strong candidates with diverse backgrounds,” he said. “It was a hard decision, but Kim (Olson) separated herself and rose to the top.”

Olson’s contract started July 1 and she was officially hired in mid-June, Shellenbarger said.

He said the hire of Olson to take over his former position was a “grand slam,” given her vested interest in the district where her children attend school, her skill set, her energy level, and her ability to “build relationships and lead with a smile on her face.”

Olson is returning to Clawson Public Schools, where she taught English language arts, reading intervention and STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — at the middle school from 2012 to 2014. She taught English and integrated studies at Clawson High School from 2014 to 2017, and also worked on the district improvement team and served as school musical director and student senate class sponsor.

Most recently, Olson served as assistant principal and principal at Oakland FlexTech High School in Farmington hills.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in theater arts and interpretation from Central Michigan University and Master of Education degree in K-12 education administration from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Olson, who grew up near Houston, said she began substitute teaching because her mom was a school secretary and she has always loved “being around kids.”

She said she was working at Clawson High School when she felt a calling to do more administratively than what she could accomplish in the classroom, so she enrolled in graduate school to pursue her dream. It resulted in her leading the Oakland FlexTech High School for the last five years, including overseeing an expansion into a new building.

When the position of principal of Clawson Middle School and High School opened up, she said, she had to apply because the district “felt like home” and its community “feels like family.”

“They just have this foundation of connectedness,” Olson said. “Everybody looks out for everybody and knows everybody. It’s a really great feeling to be a part of that.”

Kristin Meldrum will serve as the new Royal Oak Middle School principal. The school board approved her hire on June 23.

“We are excited to welcome Ms. Meldrum to Royal Oak Schools,” Royal Oak Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said in a prepared statement. “Her experience working as a secondary school administrator with an emphasis on multi-tiered systems of support will be an asset to Royal Oak Middle School.”

Meldrum, who most recently served as an assistant principal in the Troy School District, has also taught at Clarkston Community Schools and the Brandon School District. She has 15 years of experience in education at the middle school and high school levels and has served as a teacher, behavior interventionist and restorative practices coach.

“I love building relationships and helping to support motivated staff members who directly work with our students,” Meldrum said in a prepared statement. “The happier the staff, the happier the student, and I want nothing but happy, healthy and caring students.”

As a Royal Oak resident with a son who will attend school in the district, she said she is excited to live in a community where she has family and a passion to lead. She grew up in Sterling Heights, was involved as a student at Stevenson High School, and said her goal is for every student at the middle school to be a part of something they are passionate about.

Meldrum has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy, as well a master’s in the art of teaching from Marygrove College and an education specialist degree in leadership education from Oakland University.