Hood River County School District administrators move to other education jobs

Wednesday’s Hood River County School Board meeting had a going-away party feel.

There were no gifts but there were a few tears, and plenty of kudos and congratulations, as the board acknowledged the departure of an administrator and a high school vice principal, and heard that superintendent Charlie Beck had accepted the position of superintendent of Harney County Education Service District. Beck resigned last fall and will be succeeded by Dan Goldman as superintendent of Hood River Schools.

Departing are director of curriculum Penny Grotting, who is completing her first year with the district, and Todd McCauley, assistant principal at Hood River Valley High School, who was hired as principal of Whitson Elementary in White Salmon, where he lives.

McCauley’s departure leaves two principalships open at HRVHS: principal Karen Neitzel announced last month that she is leaving to become dean of studies at ‘Iolani School in Hawaii.

McCauley was hired in 2006 as vice principal at Westside Elementary, and he has been in his HRVHS job since August 2009. His father, Dennis, is principal at Mid Valley Elementary.

Grotting will also remain in the Gorge, as the new assistant superintendent of Region 9 ESD, which covers Hood River and Wasco counties.

“You both will be missed,” board member Jeff Kopecky said to Grotting and McCauley.

“Penny is one of the best educators I’ve ever worked with,” Beck said, giving her credit for advancing the Professional Leadership Community (PLC) process in the district. In PLCs, teachers share ideas and plan curriculum and teaching strategies between grades, within schools, and between schools as a way to improve instruction and prepare students for their next grade levels.

To McCauley, Beck said, “Todd, you have been a breath of fresh air.”

An emotional McCauley was initially unable to speak. Then, he invoked former HRVHS leadership advisor Bob Kadell: “He said he got a lot more out of students and staff than they ever got from him, and that’s the same with me,” McCauley said.

“I can’t thank you enough for the support I have received that led to this opportunity. The kids and staff have been wonderful,” McCauley said. “Every day I felt lucky and proud to come to work.”

In other business, the board:

  • Learned that a planned $25,000 expenditure for an artificial turf study at Henderson Stadium had been cancelled.
  • Approved foreign exchange student enrollment request for Amalie Brocker of Denmark, who will attend HRVHS in 2013. She is the first Rotary Exchange student at HRVHS in five years.
  • heard a presentation by students in the HRVHS MEChA chapter, including president-elect Daisy Martinez.
  • MEChA, which stands for Movimiento Estudianti Chicano de Aztlan, is an outreach and advocacy group for Latino students.
  • MEChA students reviewed the outreach and fundraising events of 2012-13, including hosting a Latino leadership conference in November, offering a $500 scholarship, and sponsoring a family in need at Christmas.
  • Martinez invited board members to attend a MEChA workshop in November at HRVHS. This fall MEChA will co-host the winter dance with the drama club, and plans to increase its interaction with MEChA clubs in other communities, according to Martinez.
  • heard a presentation by Westside Elementary principal Bill Newton, who said his staff’s collaboration on curriculum and instructional strategies through the PLC process had been successful this year, as was the school’s recent first annual Bike Fair.
  • This month, numerous students and parents are celebrating Bike and Walk to Work Week, with incentives going to those who participate. “It is nice to see how many students and parents are using bikes and walking as ways to get to school,” Newton said. He added that librarian Debi Gallagher had expanded the 100 Book Club to the 200 Book Club, with high participation by students striving for the goal.

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