Dear Gervais Community,
The 2017-18 school year is in the rearview mirror for our students and staff, and summer break has arrived! I hope that you and your children, and family, have many, many opportunities to rest and recharge over the summer months. We had several significant staff changes to start the year and I am more than pleased to see how all have positively impacted our students, schools and district. I hope all of our wonderful GSD staff can find quality time to recharge their batteries as well over the break. As the school year ends, our exceptional maintenance, technology and custodial staff will be launching into many seasonal projects, cleanings, and district-wide upgrades. One project I am excited to see finished will be a needed quality resurfacing of our heavily used GHS gym, it will hopefully be done by the end of July.
This past year we have seen steady growth, P-12, in many areas of student academics, as well as very important social and emotional factors critical to every student’s success. Please see the respective principal comments in this newsletter for end-of-year summary information about the individual schools. Our schools have seen significant emotional challenges this year with the tragic passing of a student at GMS. Under the leadership of Principal O’Connell, and the GMS staff, students and family came together in remarkable ways to weather this tragic loss. Witnessing this very moving celebration, and our MS students honoring this young man, their friend, was the most meaningful event of my year as superintendent. The students of GMS also did some incredible fundraising for great causes in the news, all year. We have also seen our GHS/CTE programs, and individual career strands under GHS Principal Stott, continue to grow with great potential for further growth in the future. Especially unique was seeing our live animal/horticulture facility come to initial fruition this last year, along with various garden boxes at every building location to create more outdoor/relevant learning environments for our students. It was also wonderful to see six students graduate from Samuel Brown Academy, our alternative school, under Principal Valentine-Garcia. These students often face very challenging odds, yet they persisted and finished.
It was very refreshing this year to also see the remarkably positive culture and climate cultivated at GES, under the leadership of Principal Helms. Dr. Helms and the staff of GES had several very positive assemblies this year around positive thinking and belief in one’s self that they can indeed accomplish anything, as students, as well as a focus on serving others! We had wonderful promotions events at the P-K level, 8th grade and HS graduations in June. A big thanks to Lorraine Martin, for also spearheading with other board members our wonderful district volunteer appreciation day on June 11. We were privileged at this event to personally thank our volunteers for the amazing contributions of their time and skills to our staff, students and systems, provided all year long.
At my invitation, another highlight was the very important Oregon Legislative, Joint Interim Committee on Student Success, touring the Gervais Daycare/P-K programs on 5/24/18. This committee is providing critical information back to the Oregon Legislature and Governor, around future funding in education, and was very impressed with the programs and the circular connections to our GHS/CTE strands. This committee led by Senator Arnie Roblan and Senator Peter Courtney, consisted of 16-20 legislators, and 10 legislative staff. It was great positive exposure for the GSD, as we strive to share the financial needs of our district and schools.
As our district board and district Leadership Team continues to grow in their critical and respective roles, I see more great things ahead to be accomplished for the wonderful students and parents of our district in the coming 2018-19 school year. Respect is the key to all we do in education with the young people in our trust, and the truth is that our students are overwhelmingly respectful, hardworking, and upstanding. Ditto to our parents—a more supportive community there is not. I believe that our school district is a special place, with special people, all of whom want what is best for children.
“Do what you love and make sure that your heart is in your work.” Bryan Dodge