GREENFIELD — When the final bell rings later this month, signaling the start of summer, Jim Bever will walk out of Greenfield Intermediate as its principal for the last time.

But the leader of the building for the last 17 years is not saying goodbye to Greenfield-Central schools; rather, he’s assuming a new role.

Bever, who has worked for the district for 33 years in various capacities, is moving to a newly created position in the corporation’s central office.

The new position, director of student services, divides oversight of the special education programming into two positions.

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Bever will become director of student services, overseeing special education programming across the corporation. That will allow the district’s current director of special education, Dave Walker, to focus his attention at the Catamount Center, the alternative school for students with significant special education needs.

Walker will become director of the center, which serves students in first through 12th grades who need a more quiet, personal setting than the typical classroom can provide.

Bever will help leaders at all eight buildings develop plans to aid students who struggle to understand their class work — even if they aren’t in special education programs — and make sure the social and emotional needs of students are met.

He looks forward to helping students in a new way, adding to a resume already peppered with various educational experiences.

Bever assumed the role as principal at the former Greenfield Middle School in 1999 after serving stints as the athletic director at the high school and a science and biology teacher and later assistant principal at Maxwell Middle School.

During his tenure with the school corporation, he’s seen much success, said Superintendent Harold Olin, who’s been a colleague of Bever’s for years — some of it recognized by the state.

In 2003, Bever was named the Indiana Middle School Principal of the Year, first for the region and then for the state, an honor bestowed on the state’s top educators by the Indiana Association of School Principals.

And under his direction, Greenfield Intermediate School transitioned in 2010 from a middle school housing seventh- and eighth-graders to an intermediate school for the district’s fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.

Bever spent a decade ushering hundreds of middle school students on to high school and the past seven years preparing intermediate students to transition to the junior high.

Leaving that post is bittersweet.

Bever is excited for the new role overseeing special education, but he’ll miss interacting with students, he said.

“Those kids are why I came into the biz,” he said. “While this isn’t a retirement, in some ways, it kind of feels that way.”

Teachers in his building say since day 1, he’s always put children first.

Jan Van Kley, who has worked with Bever since he arrived to Greenfield Middle School in 1999, remembers one morning in those early days well.

It poured as school was starting, leaving a handful of walkers drenched from head to toe.

Bever quickly found them dry clothes to change into before throwing their soggy clothing in a dryer.

Even now, when students get wet walking to school, he’s quick to offer warm, dry clothes for them to change into.

“That, to me, is really caring for the whole kid,” she said. “He has a great heart.”

For 33 years, he’s surrounded himself with children. He left the classroom in 1997, but even in the administrative roles he’s held since, he has worked alongside students daily.

Next year, he’ll spend most of his time with administrators and special education staff members.

His duties will include ensuring schools in the district are compliant with state and federal mandates for delivering special education, overseeing students’ individual education plans, hiring and overseeing special education staff members and helping educators troubleshoot problems or issues they face implementing the programming.

The position is new, so he expects there to be a steep learning curve as he adapts, he said.

But he’s always been an advocate and friend for students in special education at Greenfield-Central, Olin said, so the new role will be a natural fit.

Kristin Evens, a fifth grade teacher at Greenfield Intermediate School, said Bever has always put students first — a trait that will serve him well in his new role.

“He will do whatever he can to help a kid be as successful as possible and make the short time we spend with the kids the best part of their day,” she said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.