Skip to main content


Three Interim Principals will Continue Leading Schools

Selections made for Bear Creek, Elk Meadow, RE Jewell elementaries

Article Date: Feb 29, 2024

Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Steven Cook announced today the selection of three elementary principals to lead their schools. All three are serving in an interim principal status this school year and recently interviewed to continue on a permanent basis beginning in the 2024-25 school year.

They are Marc Zollinger, Bear Creek Elementary; Ben Johnston, Elk Meadow Elementary; and Jesse Rasmussen, RE Jewell Elementary. Dr. Cook said he’s pleased to have the three elementary leaders assume their roles on a permanent basis.

“Marc has developed strong relationships with students, staff and families at Bear Creek,” Cook said. “He brings his background of Spanish language instruction to a community that is developing multilingual students while creating meaningful learning experiences for all.”

Prior to his current position, Zollinger was the Assistant Principal at Woodland Elementary School in Fairview, Oregon, a position he held for three years. Before that, Zollinger spent two years as a School Climate Specialist with Portland Public Schools and 5 years as a classroom teacher.

“I'm excited to have been chosen as Bear Creek's principal and look forward to continuing to serve our students, families and teachers,” Zollinger said. “There is much work ahead, but I truly feel at home here at Bear Creek and I can't imagine being part of a better team. I thank you all for your trust in me for this very important role for our community. Go Bears!”

Prior to his current role, Johnston served as the Dean of Students at Obsidian Middle School in Redmond, Oregon. He has seven years’ experience as a district-level administrator in Minnesota and nine years of classroom teaching experience.

“In the short time that Ben has been part of the Elk Meadow community, he has continued to build a strong culture for students, staff and families,” Cook said. “He is excited to continue to foster the development of the arts while growing a solid academic foundation for all.”

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue partnering with the Elk Meadow Elementary School team and community,” Johnston said. “As a team member, leader and parent, I will continue to model compassion, strive to keep the complicated simple, and promote a culture where all feel welcome. To the students and parents of Elk Meadow, I am so excited to keep doing great things together. Go Eagles!”

Before being named interim principal last spring, Rasmussen was the Assistant Principal at R.E. Jewell for 7 years. Prior to that role, he spent 16 years as a classroom teacher; with 13 years at Jewell and 3 years internationally in the United Arab Emirates.

“Jesse has been an integral part of the Jewell community for years, providing continuity in leadership,” Cook said. “He looks forward to continuing to shape a strong academic foundation there.”

“It has been my honor to work at R.E. Jewell for most of my educational career,” Rasmussen said. “As I begin this new adventure, I look forward to supporting the amazing Jewell staff who work with inspiring compassion to help our students grow. I'm excited to serve our school community and build on the excellent work that we've been doing here.”