KOKOMO, Ind. – Fans of Kokomo athletics were shocked Monday night when the Kokomo School Corporation Board of Trustees named Athletic Director Jason Snyder as the new principal of Wallace Elementary School of Integrated Arts. But they may have felt some relief when the board voted to hire current Eastern AD Nick Sale, a Kokomo graduate, as Snyder’s replacement.

After serving the past seven years as athletic director, Snyder requested new and different leadership opportunities within the Kokomo School Corporation and will replace retiring Principal Charley Hinkle at the Wallace School of Integrated Arts.

“I am very excited to be able to make a difference in students’ lives,” Snyder stated. “With both my parents being teachers, I have always been extremely passionate about education.”

The former Boulevard Elementary student and 1995 KHS graduate is looking forward to becoming a member of the Wallace School community.

“The younger students bring such energy and enthusiasm to school each day,” said Snyder. “I already have great relationships with many of the Wallace staff members, and Mr. (Charley) Hinkle has done a wonderful job making integrated arts a showcase for Kokomo Schools. I am looking forward to spending time with Mr. Hinkle and continuing the great work being done at Wallace.”

Kokomo Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald understands Snyder’s desire to return to the classrooms of a school as a building principal.

“He is a great team player,” said Hauswald. “Jason has been talking to us for some time about additional leadership responsibilities and his desire to grow in the profession. I am thrilled with this opportunity for Jason.”

Board member Crystal Sanburn was equally excited about Snyder’s move.

“The shoes you are filling at Wallace are very large,” she told Snyder at the board meeting. “I can’t believe how awesome this is for us that you are taking this position. It almost makes me cry – we couldn’t be more blessed to have you in this position.”

The transfer of Snyder created a vacancy for the Kokomo High School athletic director, which is being filled by Nicholas Sale, a 2007 Kokomo High School graduate. Sale views the move to Kokomo as a homecoming, and noted that his wife Brooke (Cantrell) also is a KHS grad (class of 2008).

“My Mom (Rita) has worked for Kokomo Schools for more than 40 years, and her love for Kokomo Schools continues to have a great influence on my life, as well as this decision,” Sale explained. “My experiences at Eastern prepared me well to serve as Kokomo’s new athletic director.”

Kokomo is classified as a 4A school by the IHSAA and Eastern is a 2A school. While at Eastern the past seven years, Sale served four years as a 10th-grade language arts teacher, one year as the middle school Dean of students, and the past two years as athletic director. During those seven school years, Sale served as the varsity head coach of the baseball team, a position he still holds, and the boys tennis squad.

Sale noted that he was thankful to the Eastern School Corporation, especially to former Eastern AD Brad Wilson, “who allowed me to grow professionally.”

Having a pair of athletic director mentors on the Kokomo Schools staff in Mike Wade and Snyder helped Sale make his decision to accept the Kokomo position.

“Mr. Wade and Mr. Snyder are outstanding men, as well as being very good athletic directors, and I am thankful to have their expertise available,” said Sale, who was a member of the 2007 KHS baseball team that earned state runner-up honors. “Having played at Kokomo, I understand the tradition-rich North Central Conference, and I hope I can continue the Kokomo legacy in athletics.”

Snyder feels Sale is a great fit for the athletic director position.

“I believe Kokomo is very fortunate to have Nick Sale as our new athletic director,” Snyder said. “Nick has been great to work with the past two years, and he is very experienced in hosting IHSAA tournaments and project development. Nick’s passion for Kokomo High School is simply a plus. I look forward to a smooth transition this summer.”

The board also voted to hire Jason Spear as a Kokomo High School vice principal, replacing Richard Benberry who is returning to the classroom. Benberry was recently named the KHS varsity football coach and Spear will join the Kats coaching staff, a position he previously held. Spear considers returning to the Kokomo School Corporation after an eight-year absence as a homecoming.

“I will be coming back to the place I love – Kokomo,” Spear explained. “I left Kokomo for family reasons and I am returning for family reasons. My sister (Jennifer Simmons) still lives in Kokomo and she was very influential in our decision to return. Being near family is a big deal for me.”

After 17 years in special education classrooms (nine years at Central Middle School in Kokomo), Spear feels he is ready for the new responsibilities of being a high school vice principal.

“I love working with people,” said Spear, who recently was selected as the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year at Lawrence Central. “I am passionate about helping students become better people, and I am looking forward to working closely with teachers to help our students become the best they can be.”

Spear also is looking forward to serving as an assistant football coach.

“My coaching experiences at Kokomo were outstanding,” Spear said. “(Former KHS head coach Brett) Colby was one of the most influential people in my professional life. I have continued coaching football and earned a state championship ring in 2011 with Carmel.”

Courtesy of the Kokomo School Corporation and Sports Journal

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