Parkrose Schools shuffle staff

When school starts for the 2007-2008 season, you’ll see a mix of new and familiar faces supervising education in Parkrose. Who is going where? Here is your guide‚

Superintendent of Parkrose School District (until June 30) Michael Taylor; Marion Young, Director of Human Resources; and former Principal at Russell Academy of Academic Achievement Jeff Rose each share their plans for the upcoming school year.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As Parkrose school kids head out to begin their summer vacation this week, the top leadership of their school system is already hard at work planning for the upcoming school year.

Last week, Michael Taylor, Superintendent of Parkrose School District; Human Resources Director Marion Young; and later, Jeff Rose, Principal at Russell Academy of Academic Achievement sat down with us at the district office to talk about staff changes about to take place.

Importance of stability
“We’ve been concerned over the last two years, and especially the last six months, about how Parkrose Schools will be led during the leadership transition,” began Taylor, whose last day on the job is June 30. “Quality education is often tied to stability, predictability, and consistency of leadership.

“The [Parkrose School] Board has worked hard to get the district on a sound financial and educational track. They are concerned about keeping things on this path, and keeping this momentum during the transition.”

The district’s strategic planning and leadership transition has gone well, Taylor told us. In addition to welcoming Dr. Karen Fischer Gray as the new Superintendent, Taylor announced other administrative changes.

Michael Taylor tells that, while some of the staff is changing, Parkrose Schools are positioned to provide a quality education for area students.

Hiring process based on strategic plan
“Because we have a clear picture of our mission and strategic plan,” Taylor continued, “we had high-quality guidelines for assembling the new administrative staff.”

From 21 to 37 people applied for the various positions vacated due to retirement or promotion within the school system.

Depending on the position, from eight to twelve candidates were interviewed, face-to-face. Three or four finalists then interacted on-site to with staff members, parents, and other stakeholders. “This is important because, in addition to their credentials, there must be a good chemistry. There are folks who could be successful at one school, but not in another.”

“All of the individuals we recommended for hire were hired, and staffing changes have been finalized by Dr. Gray,” commented Taylor. “She called each chosen applicant and offered them the position. They will be her team members. It is appropriately that she made the final determination and did the hiring.”

Some fresh, some familiar faces
While many of the schools in the district will keep the same leadership, Taylor pointed out some changes.

Director of Student Services
Pat Jackson is retiring. Her assistant, Kathy Keim Robinson, was mentored to fill this district-level position. Robinson leaves the Special Education Coordinator position, a function being shifted to the high school.

School Improvement Specialist
For the past two years, this has been a half-time position, Taylor said. “In the past, the position was named ‘curriculum director’ or ‘director of instruction’.”

Russell Academy’s Principal, Jeff Rose, will take this post. “Rose will monitor instruction. He’ll make sure ‘best instruction practice’ is being used‚ and that our instruction is getting measurable results. By studying the results, he will determine where the gaps are, and determine what institution-wide changes can be made to enhance our delivery of education,” Taylor explained.

High School Assistant Principal of Student Services
When Kathy Keim Robinson was selected as the new Director of Student Services, it left a vacancy in the assistant position.

“We took a look at what that person was doing,” Taylor told us. “Much of that work involved high school students and middle school students. So, we moved that position to the high school.”

“This is a high school VP position, the area of responsibly will be student services within the high school.  The person in this position helps students who are in our homeless student program, and deals with counseling transition-program students who need or are entitled to services beyond their high school experiences into the workplace.”

In this position will be Michelle Markle; she comes to Parkrose from the Centennial School District.

Returning to the Portland area from Newport, on the Oregon coast, Ana Gonzalez was named as the new Principal of Parkrose Middle School.

Parkrose Middle School
As Dr. Penny Alby retires as Principal, the school welcomes Ana Gonzalez.

“She comes to us from Newport Middle School on the Oregon Coast where she was Associate Principal. Earlier in her career, Gonzalez specialized in special education in the Tualatin district. She’s a solid, sound educator,” stated Taylor.

The Vice Principal at the Parkrose Middle School is taking the district’s Director of Maintenance position, vacated by Ted Evans.

Molly Davies, currently an 8th Grade teacher in Parkrose, was named the new VP. “She’ll be new to Administration,” Taylor commented, “but she’s coming to it with seven years experience teaching in our classrooms.”

We caught up with Jeff Rose, leaving Russell Academy for his post as the district’s School Improvement Specialist, and with teacher Debbie Ebert, named as the school’s new Principal, as they came in from officiating the last intramural soccer game of the season.

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement
With the announcement that Jeff Rose was moving to the district office, students, staff, and parents speculated as to who would be named Principal.

“We hired Russell Academy fifth-grade teacher Debbie Ebert to be Principal,” announced Taylor. “She knows the school, the staff, and the work they’ve done in the last five years. Ebert has the skills and capabilities it takes to keep their good, solid program running.”

Talking with Ebert as she headed toward her classroom after officiating the spring term’s final soccer game, she told us, “I’m really looking forward to being part of the continuing success we’re having here at Russell Academy. With the support of our great staff, we’ll build on our successes.”

‘Principal school’
Logistically speaking, we can’t run an actual “sidebar” on our East Portland News pages ‚Äì but we found the concept of “Principal school” too fascinating to discard.

Because some of the district’s teachers have been promoted from teaching to administrative positions, we asked Taylor, half jokingly, if teachers are required to attend “Principal school”.

“Yes, they do, as a matter of fact. It is a 35 to 40 credit-hour graduate program,” instructed Taylor. “Sometimes folks integrate this work with their Master’s Degree, others take it as a stand-alone program.

“The state identifies the standards and competencies. Each institution that offers this program has a state-certified curriculum.

“Coursework includes staff supervision, budgeting, leadership, school change, policy and procedure‚ a heavy component of school law. The requirements are spelled out in the Oregon Administrative Rules.”

What’s next for Taylor?
Anyone who knows Mike Taylor knows he’s not ready to sit back in a recliner and watch the world go by after he leaves Parkrose Schools.

In two weeks, we’ll tell you all about Taylor’s next adventure.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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