Hood River County School District picks Dan Goldman as new superintendant

The Hood River County School Board concluded its search for a new superintendent Wednesday evening and offered the position to Dan Goldman, current director of instruction and elementary education with the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

In a late-night conversation with Board Chair Jan Veldhuisen Virk, Goldman accepted the position, which will include a three-year contract commencing July 1.

“I want you to know that your reputation across the state is really, really good,” Goldman told a group of community members who took advantage of an opportunity to meet the two candidates Wednesday afternoon. “When I was going through the schools, it felt really good; kids seemed to be very engaged; and the instruction — I was on my hands and knees a bunch, which was great; you don’t get to do that too much when you go on a job interview, right?”

The school board, working with the recruiting firm of Ray and Associates, started the process in November with a field of 45 applicants. Through initial interviews the field was narrowed down to the two finalists, Dr. Steven Skalka and Dan Goldman. Both candidates spent Wednesday in the district, touring buildings and meeting staff, followed by an extensive interview with the school board that afternoon.

It has been a thorough process which included staff input, multiple interviews and an extensive background review. The board’s selection was based on Goldman’s breadth of knowledge about education, experience in leading educational reform, and his enthusiasm about student achievement.

He said that the three main things he wants the people to know about him are that he plans to be as visible in the community as possible, believes in making shared decisions as much as possible (though “Somebody has to make a decision at the end of the day, and I’ll do that, too”), and his highest priority is teaching and learning in the district.

“I’m really invested in literacy, and higher rates of literacy,” he said. “It’s the information age, and if kids can’t access information, they really are doomed to a life of less.”

When asked what he was proudest of in his career to date, Goldman answered that there are really two:

“The thing I think I’m most proud of is the relationships I have with the people that I work with,” he said. “Education is a people business. There are technical parts of what we need to do, for sure; there’s an art and a science to this thing. I have had really outstanding relationships with the administrative team and my teachers, and if I didn’t have that, the other stuff that I’d feel really good about would not be able to happen.

“The technical thing that I’m most proud of is our elementary reading program,” he said. “We started that whole process in 2008 … and since that time our achievement in elementary reading has gone through the roof; it’s unbelievable.

“We’ve closed the achievement gap in our Latino kids and our white kids by about 40 percent in just a couple of years,” he said. “I’m really proud of that — not just because we pulled something off but when you talk about what education should really be about, it’s about all kids making lots of progress.”

Goldman was attracted to Hood River because of the quality of education the schools provide their students, the size of the district and the opportunities found in the area. He and his wife, Nicole, along with their two children, are excited about coming to Hood River and being part of the community.

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