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From Superintendent Perera

June 3, 2021

 

A Message of Gratitude and Farewell

Perera

 

Dear Gresham-Barlow School District Community, 

As the school year draws to a close and I approach the end of my time in the Gresham-Barlow School District, I want to take the opportunity to thank our students, staff, families, and community for their tremendous efforts and reflect on all that we have accomplished.

First, let me say it has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together since I arrived in 2017.

Over the last four years we have accomplished much: 

  • The graduation rate for the District’s three high schools (GHS, SBHS, STHS) has increased by 4 percentage points since 2018, with the Class of 2020 graduation rate coming in at 84%.  I am confident we will finish this school year strong and our graduation rate for the Class of 2021 will be just as high. 
  • The District engaged community, business, and education stakeholders to create a new Preschool to Postsecondary Pathways to Career Success framework, designed to offer multiple, robust, and equitable opportunities for relevant student engagement toward postsecondary readiness.The pathways are housed under six career clusters: Health Sciences, Industry and Engineering, Human Services, Natural Resources, Business and Marketing and Arts, Communication, and Information Technology. Throughout their K-12 education, students will gain career awareness, exposure, and experiences in the career pathways, culminating in a post high school transition plan. 
  • A Dual Language (English/Spanish) Immersion Program has been established at Highland and North Gresham Elementary Schools beginning with kindergarten. The program will be expanded by an additional grade each year. 
  • The District has completed 95% of the projects in its 2016 school bond program on time and on budget, to include the construction of two replacement elementary schools, the renovation of two high schools, along with other school campus renovations. The 2016 school bond program also included the installation of safety and security measures, new playground equipment for each elementary school, and middle school STEM labs. 
  • In addition to all the accomplishments listed above, I’m perhaps most proud of the way we all came together during this extremely challenging pandemic. A year ago the District quickly pivoted from in-person learning to comprehensive distance learning and distributed thousands of devices to students. We developed a system for handing out grab-and-go meals safely. This past fall, the District worked to strengthen its comprehensive distance learning option with a priority on meeting the social emotional needs of our students. This spring, the District implemented a hybrid instructional model while continuing to maintain a strong online learning program. The commitment of our students, staff, and families to work together as a team through all of these changes has been extraordinary!

As I say farewell, I want to take this opportunity to share some words of encouragement and thanks. 

To our students, I would like to encourage each of you to continuously look for ways to learn, adapt, and repeat the process. If you have learned nothing else during this pandemic - you have learned how to adapt to a year of cancellations, quarantining, rescheduling, social distancing, and not being able to return to school in person full time.  If you are reading this -- then you have to be proud of yourself for growing-through 100% of your challenges.  The knowledge and challenges you experienced while learning during a pandemic will be life-long skills that will help you THRIVE in a global community.  I am Super-PROUD of each of you.  

To our graduating seniors, like your peers you have overcome so many uncertainties, extended grace over and over again, had to change plans often, and experienced numerous disappointments because of the limitations and restrictions brought on by COVID. The most heartbreaking reality is that you have missed out on many traditional rights of passage given to seniors. The lessons of resiliency, adaptation, and flexibility will be invaluable to you as you move into adulthood.  

To staff, you have extended yourselves beyond capacity on numerous occasions, pivoted without fail, and quickly adjusted without much notice. You made sure you were prepared to deliver instruction in a new model. Each of you have worked tirelessly to ensure that all GBSD students were cared for, felt safe, and had access to learning opportunities. You are the unsung heroes who continue to contribute to the success of this district. Well done!  

To our school board, I can attribute every bit of my dedication and any amount of success to not only our staff - but to your leadership. Your continued support and service to this community is to be commended. Your clear, focused direction helped us keep “the main thing, the main thing” by allowing us to focus on our students. I am forever grateful. 

To our community, the amount of grace and flexibility you have extended throughout my tenure and especially over the last year has not gone unnoticed. Our daily lives were turned upside down a little over a year ago but together we looked for ways to support everyone. The ongoing commitment and care for our communities’ most precious resource - our students, is to be commended. I am super-proud to have served this community.  

As I conclude my time leading GBSD, I look forward to celebrating the Class of 2021 at their graduation ceremonies. They will truly be events to remember!

Again, thank you for this incredible opportunity and pleasure to have served as superintendent of schools. It has been one of the best highlights of my career and I will forever remember this wonderful learning community.

Yours in education,

Dr. A. Katrise Perera

Superintendent of Schools