Surprise scholarship and school super speech highlight Parkrose biz event

The Parkrose Business Association meeting was jam-packed with action in November – but wait until you see what’s coming up on December 7 …

Why is this young man doing a back-handspring? He’s just been surprised with a mid-year scholarship by the Parkrose Business Foundation!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The lively November meeting of the Parkrose Business Association included everything from police reports to a report card on the Parkrose School system.

In addition to asking for help from the business people in the Parkrose area to fight crime, Sgt. John W Anderson revealed plans to open a police substation on Sandy Blvd.

Two crime-fighters report
Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Sgt. John W Anderson summarized police activity in the area. He told the group, “We’re still fighting prostitution and drugs, even though Prostitution-free and Drug-free Zone [ordinances] have gone away. I encourage you to work with us to help reduce crime.”

The meeting’s “Member Moment” was Sharon Silva Taylor of ACRAnet, a firm that fights crime with computer technology. Silva Taylor revealed some surprising statistics about white-collar crime, and told how their screening services help spot fudged job applicant resumes, untruthful potential renters, and identity theft.

Austin Crumbly, a Parkrose High School student and member of the Cheer Squad, accepts a scholarship check from board member Jon Turino.

Parkrose High student gets surprise scholarship
Membership chair and association board member, Jon Turino, called up Parkrose High School senior Austin Crumbly.

“This young man has the opportunity to get several scholarships,” Turino said. “But, it has been difficult for him to pay for the uniforms and fees so they can continue to participate in the sports that can earn him a scholarship. So, the board of directors of the Parkrose Business Foundation voted to present him with this $500 check.”

When a member asked Crumbly if he was excited enough to do a back hand-spring, the young man didn’t hesitate – and did so with grace.

Dr. Karen Fischer Gray is introduced by PBA president Mark Eves.

School superintendent’s report card
Acknowledging that this was the last introduction he’ll make as the outgoing president of the association, Mark Eves welcomed Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, superintendent of Parkrose School District.

Gray started her talk by recapping how the district took 18 months to find a replacement for the retiring superintendent, Michael Taylor.

“As part of their process, the school board created a strategic plan for the district,” Gray began. “This included expectations for a new superintendent. They chose me.

Gray told the group that her professional background included a wide range of positions, from speech pathologist to high school principal. She disclosed that she has three children, ages 19, 23, and 25. “The oldest, my son, works for the David Douglas High School. As you can see, I do have roots here in the Portland area.”

Superintendent Gray says the school board is working to better connect businesses with the schools.

Expands Strategic Plan
Turning to the school district’s Strategic Plan, Gray said that she is impressed with the thinking behind it, and has an appreciation for the process. “I don’t do anything without a Strategic Plan. Intentions are good, but I like to see, and be able to measure, results.”

The new superintendent shared three main points with the group.

“First is about our Strategic Plan. We have solid board here at our district. One of the first things we did when we met was to develop a strategic plan for the board that matches the overall school system plan.

“One of our goals is to better connect Parkrose High School with area businesses. This will allow students to get real-world exposure along with their academic learning.”

Gray said another goal is to gain a better understanding of where the graduating students go after leaving Parkrose High: College, community college, technical school, or directly into the workforce.

Finally, she said, the school board is working to develop systems to better student achievement. “Throughout the district, we work in professional learning teams. All teachers, K-12, meet as professional organizations, making sure students are getting essential learning at their grade level. And, we measure to see how well they’re learning; and develop plans to help struggling students.”

Regarding testing, Gray added, “We aren’t testing students at the end of a course or a year – that’s like performing an autopsy after the patient is dead. Our testing is like ‘well baby checkups’ along the way.”

The new school superintendent says she’d like to see technology better used in the schools and has a passion for ‘marquee sports’.

Stresses importance of technology and sports
On another topic, Gray revealed that the school district doesn’t have a system-wide technology plan.

“A sound technology plan isn’t only hardware and software, but how we collectively use data to make decisions about teaching. In addition to using technology to measure teaching effectiveness, we’re looking for ways of creating embedded instruction.”

She added that they’ve hired a specialist to help them use computer hardware and software to help students learn better through modern technology.

A plan for Parkrose football
“For some time, I underestimated the power of ‘marquee sports’ like football and basketball,” Gray continued. “Most recently, I came from a school that built at $2 million collegiate stadium. They had the National Football Coach of the Year.”

The school started an athletic task force, she explained, and 30 people showed up. “Not to blame and point fingers, but a conversation. A good high school football program starts in 7th and 8th grade. We’re strategizing how to improve football, but we’re also looking at how we can beef up soccer and the swim club programs.”

Gray concluded, “We have great teachers and administration. We have a very supportive board. Their entire filter is what is good for kids. Thanks for your support.”

Past president Wayne Stoll pitches the association’s fabulous holiday banquet.

Holiday Banquet planned for December 7
Where’s the best association holiday banquet? Many folks say it is the association’s annual event in Parkrose.

Past president Wayne Stoll told the group their annual Holiday Banquet is set for Friday, December 7, at Steamer’s Restaurant and Lounge, 8303 NE Sandy Blvd at 6:00 p.m.

The meal, Stoll said, includes eight salad selections, roast turkey breast, pork loin and salmon entrees, and all the trimmings. The cost is only $30 per person.

“We need a head count, and this event usually sells out,” Stoll extolled. “Please let us know you’ll be coming by December 3 so you won’t be disappointed. Call Marsha Lee at (503) 257-3229 and let her know if you’ll be coming.”

In addition to the meal, the association holds a silent auction, and features entertainment – including the Parkrose High Debonairs.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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