Evenson-Brady named superintendent

Dr. Pat Evenson-Brady will be the new superintendent of Hood River County Schools.

Evenson-Brady, former assistant superintendent of the district, had been all but appointed last month, after the board narrowed its candidate list to one name — Evenson-Brady’s. The board then authorized the district’s legal counsel to negotiate a contract with Evenson-Brady’s attorney. Evenson-Brady left the district three years ago to become superintendent of Region 9 Education Service District, which serves Hood River, Wasco, and four other counties. She will start work July 1.

“I’m excited and thrilled to be coming back to Hood River County. It’s a real adventure,” she said.

The hiring decision was made final Thursday when the Hood River resident signed her three-year contract, which the School Board had ratified on Tuesday.

Still, Evenson-Brady is keeping her new job at arm’s length.

“I am an observer at this point,” she said. “I’ve tried to stay informed. I am not yet the superintendent and I also have a full plate with my job as Region 9 superintendent, which I will continue to do until July 1.”

“I can’t make any assumptions. The district has changed quite a bit,” Evenson-Brady said, in spite of the fact that she is a Hood River resident, she once worked for the district, and has sustained her contacts through her work at Region 9.

Evenson-Brady has formed a transition team, which will meet every two weeks. District and building administrators, classified and certified employees will serve on the team.

“They’re helping me make sure I am up to speed on the issues,” Evenson-Brady said.

But it is the new superintendent’s familiarity with the district and its employees that helped her stand out, according to Jan Veldhuisen Virk, board chairwoman.

“Pat will bring a lot of things to the district,” Veldhuisen Virk said. “She is a strong leader, and she has a history in our district, which will be really helpful in times we’re heading into.

“She has a present relationship with the administrators and teachers in our district which I think will be invaluable,” Veldhuisen Virk said. “She often thinks in ways that will allow us to make changes and be flexible. Pat is first and foremost an educator, and that will continue to be her priority: to educate kids in Hood River County.”

Trying fiscal times are a reality Evenson-Brady said the district and its patrons can endure.

“You need to focus on the positive,” she said. “Teaching is the most important thing we can do. It’s tremendously important. We have to remind (the community) of how vitally important that work is.”

Evenson-Brady will be a familiar face in classrooms starting in September. She has vowed to try to visit every classroom in the district during her first two years.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the new challenge. It’s been a great job at Region 9 ESD. I’ve had really good folks to work with.” Evenson-Brady submitted her resignation this week.

She has had to cut programs severely at ESD in her three years there.

“I learned a great deal about budgeting, how to downsize while maintaining staff morale and maintaining a quality agency,” she said.

She acknowledged that the process is somewhat different at a school district than at an ESD, which provides support services rather than K-12 core instruction.

“It’s different at a school district compared to an ESD where you can cut programs in hopes that the individual districts can pick some of it up. I mean, you can’t cut third grade,” Evenson-Brady said.

“The challenge is in the budget, but not just the loss of money but maintaining quality programs,” she said.

Evenson-Brady plans to emphasize communications and “maintaining support for the programs that are absolutely necessary.”

“Otherwise, you get a downward spiral, and we can’t do that in Hood River,” she said of a district she believes has “truly good people,” and one that has made great strides in test scores given the relatively high poverty and percentage of English as a Second Language learners.

“It’s a challenged population and still it has these improved figures,” she said. “What we have done here is unique. We have been able to focus on teaching. This district takes seriously the challenge to educate all kids.”

Evenson-Brady directly succeeds interim superintendent Rick Eggers, who will return to his assistant position on July 1. The previous superintendent was Jerry Sessions, who resigned Jan. 1, halfway through his second year with the district, following revelations he made payments to former athletic director Glenn Elliott that had not been authorized by the board.

Evenson-Brady said that she has heard positive comments about Sessions but wants to put the negative nature of his departure in the past.

“It’s a problem to be dealt with but not an overwhelming problem,” she said. “But it is old business. We have to ask, ‘what is our new business?’”

The former teacher most of all looks forward to her regular classroom visits over the next two years.

“It’s my plan and I’ll do my best to make it to every classroom. It says what is important: to emphasize the classroom, to polish it, and to celebrate it.

“I think people want good schools. They recognize that they’re part of the economic development of the community,” Evenson-Brady said. “Folks will recognize this as a really key ingredient of the good life in Hood River.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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