Ninety-One Principal Steps Down after 11 Years, Citing Health

The leader of Ninety-One School, one of the most unique public schools in the area is stepping down after 11 years, Principal Skyler Rodolph announced Tuesday.

Located in rural Hubbard, Ninety-One is a K-8 school that is part of the Canby School District. Yet, in many ways, Ninety-One has maintained a distinct culture and community all its own.

Geographically isolated, Ninety-One has sometimes borne a heavier and longer-lasting impact from natural disasters like the February ice storms — which left the area without power for almost two weeks.

But its unique situation has also brought benefits. For example, Ninety-One’s middle schoolers were the only ones in Canby School District that were able to return to mostly full in-person learning this spring, while Baker Prairie remained in hybrid mode.

Rodolph, with his propensity for dad jokes and a stubborn refusal to take himself too seriously, endeared himself to many in the Ninety-One community. His YouTube videos during the Covid-19 pandemic were must-watch TV, including his hilarious, relentlessly deadpan parody of Hamilton‘s “You’ll Be Back” that collected more than 65,000 views.

He and his wife, Nikki, worked tirelessly during the ice storm and power outage, collecting and distributing food, water and other relief items and staging several giveaways in the Ninety-One School gymnasium.

In a letter announcing his resignation Tuesday afternoon, he said he and his family are “invested in this community” and will continue to serve and support it.

“This is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make, but after much prayer and consideration, I know it’s the right one,” he said.

Rodolph cited health reasons for his decision to step down, disclosing that he has a rare condition known as Stargardt’s Disease, which refers to a group of inherited afflictions that cause deterioration in the light-sensitive cells of the retina, particularly in the area of the macula where fine focusing occurs.

The condition has caused progressive vision loss since his diagnosis at age 19, Rodolph said.

“Eight years ago, I was classified as ‘legally blind,'” he said. “I have had to work hard to compensate for my loss of vision. In recent years, my vision has deteriorated, as has my ability to compensate in many situations.”

The ailment has made it more challenging to perform many of his responsibilities, he admitted, and has exacted a physical and emotional toll.

“I have considered it a true honor to lead this school community,” he said. “Ninety-One is a special place. Thank you for allowing me to serve.”

The district is seeking community feedback on the next leader of Ninety-One School and is planning a virtual community meeting at 6 p.m. June 22. Look for more information in the coming days.

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