They were looking for someone with experience and settled for someone who was bald.

Really bald.

When Lee Loving applied for the assistant principal position at Seaside High School, he didn't get an interview the first time around. The ink was still wet on his master's degree from Portland State University, and "newbie" wasn't one of the employment qualifications. But Loving called the district office and talked his way into a meeting. The back-door candidate then proceeded to land the job.

Now a year later his colleagues are just as impressed - and he's still just as bald.

But Loving doesn't lament his missing mop. He has used the trait to connect with kids, many of whom he sees in his office repeatedly for discipline and attendance issues.

"It's a good ice breaker with kids," he said. "Any time you can bring yourself down to a human level you show them that you're a real person."

Loving, who started losing his head of hair at age 17, takes a lot of good-natured teasing from students, precipitated at least in part by his own self-deprecation on the issue. He can often be heard saying, "I might be bald, but I'm not stupid."

Loving is recognized around the high school for more than his shiny crown. One of his first achievements was instituting the Seagull Stomp, a clap-stomp combo that increases in intensity, like a seagull picking up speed on the beach.

"Lee has really come in and brought a lot of energy," said counselor Neil Branson.

More seriously, Loving's greatest personal accomplishment his first year was getting to know every student. Some he saw more than others.

"He works to build those relationships with those kids he sees the most, understanding those relationships are the only hope of success," Branson said.

Outside of school, Loving can be found hanging out with his wife and three young daughters, planting a yard in front of his new Gearhart home and soaking up the fishing, crabbing and clamming the region offers. He also enjoys playing a poor game of tennis.

Loving said he can't believe he gets to live in such a welcoming community and be paid to work with students every day.

"Hopefully nobody pinches me so I don't wake up," he said.

- Leanne Josephson

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