Evenson-Brady talks teaching

Lone Superintendent finalist meets the public again on Tuesday

This is how Dr. Pat Evenson-Brady “introduced” herself to the public on Monday:

“My passion is with instruction and how I can be helpful that way,” said Evenson-Brady, the lone finalist for the job of Hood River County Schools superintendent. In a career spanning more than 20 years, she has taught at level from Kindergarten through graduate school.

Evenson-Brady spoke to 12 people who came to a community meeting at Hood River Middle School, taking notes as she answered — and asked — questions to the group, comprised mainly of teachers and principals.

Many of them already knew Evenson-Brady, who had served as assistant superintendent and Westside Elementary principal during the 1990s. She left Hood River schools in 2000 to become superintendent of Region 9 Education Service District, which serves Wasco, Hood River, Gilliam and Sherman counties.

The public will have another chance to meet Evenson-Brady, on Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. at Wy’east Middle School.

The board could reach a decision as early as March 12, when it meets at Parkdale Elementary at 7:30 p.m., according to Jan Veldhuisen Virk, school board chair.

Last week the school board named the Evenson-Brady the sole finalist by the school board. Five other semi-finalists were interviewed, but the board felt strongly that Evenson-Brady was the person it wanted to hire, according to Veldhuisen Virk.

Monday night, Evenson-Brady fielded questions widely ranging from bilingual education to budget cuts.

She pointed to the high rankings Hood River received in the state School Report Cards, and said, “we’ve got to get the word out about that. I think we have to create a plan for doing that. It has to be all of our responsibility to do that, not just mine.”

She noted that the district has had six National Merit Scholarship finalists in the past four years.

“That’s knock your socks off,” she said.

She said she would be highly visible at the schools, and pledged to visit every classroom within the first two years. Leadership, she said, is a balancing act.

“I’ll try to help people see the wisdom of my ideas, but sometimes the superintendent gets paid to direct,” she said. “There is a balance between site-based management and district needs,” she said. “You are always moving back and forth between site-based management and cohesion among the buildings.”

She said the district must find ways to keep Hispanic students — 40 percent of the population — motivated to learn at all ages. Much of this requires engaging their parents, she said.

“Staff, myself included, need to pursue Spanish language and become more culturally comfortable,” she said.

On the budget situation, Evenson-Brady said the district faces some “hard, hard choices” between programs, personnel, and possibly instruction days to be cut.“Whatever we do we’ll do with enough depth to make a difference,” she said of the programs to be retained. “It will be some combination. We’ll have to look at multiple solutions.”

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