A principal who has spent most of his life attending or working in Alpine schools was chosen as district superintendent by the Alpine School Board Tuesday.

Steven C. Baugh, American Fork High School principal, was unanimously approved to succeed retiring Clark Cox. There will be a monthlong transition period during which Cox will orient the new superintendent, and Baugh should take over June 30.During a press conference at district headquarters, board President Jan Lewis said Baugh was chosen in part because of his reputation as a good problem solver.

"Dr. Baugh is a very respected educator with 19 years of service to the district. He is well-known for his problem-solving abilities and his rapport with students, teachers and parents," Lewis said. "The board is very proud of the accomplishments that have been made under the direction of Dr. Cox, and we expect they will continue under Dr. Baugh's direction."

Baugh said he developed his problem-solving abilities when he became principal at American Fork. Teachers, students and parents at the school were upset by the resignation of the former principal, and the school was divided.

"They had forgotten the students, and the issue had become more important," he said. "We refocused and people came back together."

Baugh will have to employ those skills again when he steps in as superintendent. Some district teachers, upset over pay and lack of respect, are suffering from low morale.

Baugh said that because he is coming directly from one of Alpine's schools he will be in a good position to understand teachers' concerns.

"(Teachers) tend to view me as one of them, and if some are feeling a lack of morale, then that will be one of my strengths," he said. "Teachers have some honest questions about their value to our patrons and to our students. They need to be appreciated."

The new superintendent will try to improve teachers' attitudes by meeting with them regularly and taking their concerns seriously.

"They need to feel good about their jobs," he said. "I will try to understand the people and let them know I trust them and I care."

Many district staff members already support Baugh. About 40 crowded into the board room Tuesday to hear the announcement, and they gave him a standing ovation.

"I hope I can put (the support) in a bottle and put it on a shelf and make withdrawals from it," Baugh told the group. "This is an outstanding district, and we hope to maintain and improve upon that. I'm thrilled with this marvelous opportunity."

Baugh has worked for the opportunity for several years. He started his career in Alpine as a math and English teacher at Orem High School, where he worked for 10 years. He was assistant principal at Mountain View High School for one year and principal at Pleasant Grove Junior High for four years before becoming principal at American Fork three years ago.

He and his wife, Cathleen, have lived most of their lives in Orem. They have eight children, six of whom are attending Alpine schools. Baugh's father was a teacher, coach and principal in Alpine for 33 years.