By Mary Owen
Concerns about increasing holes in the state’s education budget mingled with a desire to go fishing and visit with the grandkids figured in Dr. Jack Adams’s decision to take early retirement in June.
“It’s financially feasible for me and it’s the right thing to do,” said Adams, superintendent of the North Santiam School District. “I’m ready to step down for the sake of the district.”
Adams started his tenure at NSSD in 2006, after leading school districts in Oregon and Washington since 1980. During his administration, he has established several programs that have bettered the district’s ability to serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
His first step as superintendent was to establish a management team to “rethink how business is done.”
“Good management is when everyone understands each other’s jobs and becomes a team,” said Adams, who manages and mentors teachers and staff with an open concept. Team members come from all district venues, including administrators, teaching staff, board members and union representatives.
Other accomplishments include:
• Improving district libraries.
• Changing the school evaluation process to meet state standards.
• Working to unify district schools.
• Starting agriculture classes at Stayton High School.
Future plans included starting a community education program and further developing agricultural coursework. More vocational teachers could leverage Carl. D. Perkins grant funding from the federal government, freeing existing NSSD funds to hold on to more classroom teachers, Adams said.
“I also wanted to initiate a teen parenting class, where young moms can bring their children to school and receive parenting courses as well as regular class work,” he said. “By going to class four hours a day, they could stay in school and graduate on time. We could partner with the YMCA.”
Adams, who has been nominated for the 2010 Superintendent of the Year, has drawn accolades from teachers and staff throughout the district.
“Jack’s communication skills, honesty and transparency in keeping the district’s classified and licensed staff, administrators, confidential staff, and board members updated on the current status of funding has been exceptional,” said Mary Richards, who serves as his executive assistant.
Richards said Adams is “head and shoulders above the rest” and is committed to saving jobs and doing “what is best for kids.”
Principal Paula Vawter of Mari-Linn School in Lyons cited Adams as a “man who holds himself to the highest standard and expects the same from his staff.”
“He will accept nothing but our greatest efforts as we all work for what is best for our students,” she wrote in her recommendation for the superintendent award.
Vawter commended Adams for staying rooted in the midst of Oregon’s budget crisis.
“He was proactive in combining programs, shifting personnel and cutting back in spending so programs for kids were preserved,” she said. “Not one employee in the North Santiam School District was laid off this year.”
Stayton Elementary School Principal David Bolin called Adams’ style of leadership “very visual, up front, honest and open,” establishing trust among all employee groups.
Board Vice-Chairman Richard Morley commended Adams for making the district “healthier now than it has been at any previous time” during his 15 years of service on the board.
“Dr. Adams has saved our district!” wrote Jamie McCarty, principal of Sublimity School. “There is no other way to say it!”
McCarty credits Adams for saving NSSD from a “path to mediocracy,” restoring the district’s vision and purpose.
Now that district personnel better understand how to do what is best for all students, Adams is bowing out.
His last day will be June 30 but he is confident that his legacy will carry on.
“Good processes have been implemented during the four years I have been here,” said Adams. “The district is moving forward.”
The North Santiam School District board of directors opened the superintendent position to in-district candidates with the necessary credentials at its Jan. 4 special session.
As of press time, Michael Ann McIlvenny, currently the district’s associate superintendent, and Andy Gardner, principal at Stayton Middle and Intermediate schools, have applied.
Candidates must have “outstanding communication skills, a high degree of integrity and a willingness to collaborate with an active board of directors, committed staff, and involved community members,” according to the district’s announcement.
The individual to replace outgoing superintendent Dr. Jack Adams must have “the ability to inspire staff to creatively build well-rounded educational programs” for district schools, as well as the ability to develop and implement programs that ensure NSSD students are receiving the best education possible.
The position will be offered to a qualified applicant by early March.
The board has the option of going outside of the district if none of the applicants meet the criteria.
For more information, visit http://nsantiam.orvsd.org/content/ superintendent.</div>