Jesuit High School President John Gladstone makes the grade
Gladstone will step down next spring after a decade leading the Catholic school in Raleigh Hills
John Gladstone avoids Facebook and would rather put a stamp on a letter than send an email, but he might be one of the best-connected people in Beaverton.
When the president of Jesuit High School encounters students, staff, parents or anyone else, hes all high-fives and handshakes and hows your families.
Hes so good about knowing names, he even knows the name of your dog, said Sandy Satterberg, a longtime teacher and principal at Jesuit who recently retired. Hes a real people person.
Gladstone, 68, has led the Catholic school for the past decade but announced earlier this year that he will retire after this coming school year.
I want to go five days straight sleeping in until 6:30, he joked.
I couldnt imagine a better president, said incoming senior Amber Grimmer, who leads the schools Crusaders for Kindness club. I dont think anyone can live up to Mr. Gladstone but I hope they do.
By next June, Gladstone will have spent nearly a half century in Catholic education, starting as a full-time Latin teacher even while still taking college courses during the 1960s.
That just shows how bright he is, said his brother, Kevin Gladstone.
John Gladstone then worked his way through a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative positions at high schools and colleges. Most of those jobs except for an early post in Tacoma were in Gladstones native Ohio, including his previous position as a dean at John Carroll University in the suburbs of Cleveland, where he grew up.
Gladstone thought he would retire at Carroll and remain in Cleveland until several people contacted him about the opportunity at Jesuit. He earlier had worked at several Jesuit high schools elsewhere and felt a strong connection to high schooler students. His wife Ginas family also lives in the region.
After about the fifth or sixth phone call, I thought Id at least take a look, he said, adding that hes never regretted the decision. Ive worked at some great schools, but never at a school where kids and faculty care about each other and believe so much in each other.
He said his mission has been to turn out young graduates who were prepared to change the world.
Gladstones role as president is roughly comparable to a public school districts superintendent, with additional focus on fundraising to support the privately funded institution.
Students, faculty and parents said Gladstones legacy will carry on long after he retires and is deeply rooted in his ability to connect with people.
John is an excellent administrator but hes way more than that. He is a good friend to everybody here, said Father J.K. Adams. Ive never seen anyone quite so engaged with the students. He loves these kids.
Gladstone is the most genuinely caring person Ive ever met, said current principal Paul Hogan. Anybody whos with him feels like they have his entire attention.
Satterberg, who preceded Hogan as president and then remained as a teacher through last spring, said You cant not like John.
He is probably the best boss that anyone could ever work for, Satterberg added. John is by far the best president weve ever had.
Tricia Heffernan, whose children graduated from Jesuit and remains involved in the school, said: I dont think that they could have picked a finer person with more character than John Gladstone.
She appreciates that Gladstone works daily to make sure Jesuit students have a sense of gratitude for blessings in their lives. All Jesuit students are required to give back to their communities, and on average most donate twice the number of hours required.
Gladstone also is well-known for reaching out to students, staff and families when illness or other hardships touch their lives, often sending cards or flowers or touching hand-written notes.
Indigo Irving, an incoming senior, said Gladstone sent flowers when her own mother was diagnosed with cancer.
It was awesome to have that support system back at school, she said. Hes just an all-around incredible person.
Hes a giving, loving person, added senior Alzena Henry. You dont meet people like that very often. I feel like he genuinely cares.
In todays society, in todays culture, thats not always celebrated, said Heffernan, who recently had similar support from Gladstone when a family member fell ill. He is authentic, he really is.
He also has deliberately worked to make Jesuits student body a more diverse place, with students from a variety of backgrounds better reflecting the broader society.
When he arrived, fewer than one in six students received financial aid to help pay tuition. Today, more than a quarter of the students share $2.8 million in assistance based on need.
Similarly, about a third of incoming students are now kids of color, making the school nearly twice as diverse as Jesuit was just 10 years ago. While almost three-fourths of the student body is Catholic, there also are students who practice a variety of other religions, including Muslims, Hindus, Jews and a variety of Protestant Christian traditions.
Theyve changed the landscape of our school, Glad-stone said. Its been a huge growth.
Gladstone is credited with being a skilled fundraiser, which in turn boosts Jesuits endowment and provides money for student tuition and equitable wages and benefits for staff.
In Gladstones biggest financial success, he worked with a couple of key donors who gave $10 million toward Jesuits $17.2 million purchase of most of neighboring Valley Plaza shopping center.
Today, that site is generating enough income to repay a loan the school also used to buy the land, which in the future will provide space for additional parking and possibly academic and athletic facilities that support Jesuit. The investment should help sustain Jesuit for another 50 years, Gladstone said.
Its really guaranteed the schools future, he said.
Gladstone said the campus future growth onto at least part of the Valley Plaza property will not likely be aimed at increasing the size of Jesuits student body, now at 1,260.
We are concerned that if we grow larger, we would lose that personal touch, he said. We work very hard to make sure kids fit in here.
Part of the Jesuit touch is maintaining close ties with the Society of Jesuits and their mission, which has been part of Gladstones upbringing since early childhood. The Jesuits operate more than 60 high schools in the U.S., with Beavertons campus the only one in Oregon.
Gladstone is a man of deep faith, starting prayer early each day and returning to it often.
He also carries a medal of Mary, the Mother of God, in his pocket at all times, 60 years after his grandfather gave it to him. He has lost it in the Midwest snow, in beach sand, in a grassy field and even on a cross-country flight, but somehow the medal has always come back to him.
Ive always had a great devotion to Mary, he said. Its something I use to meditate.
He lives all that stuff, Father Adams said.
Beyond his faith, he has maintained a strong devotion to Cleveland, including his family and his passion for its sports teams. Despite that, he said he plans to remain in Portland while traveling to see the far-flung children and grandchildren from his and Ginas blended family. He also plans to indulge in more reading.
We miss him. Hes such a big part of our family, said his brother, Kevin Gladstone. Were so proud of what hes accomplished.
We got him from Cleveland, Heffernan said. I dont want to give him back to Cleveland.
Selecting a new president
Jesuit High School is in the process of selecting President John Gladstones successor.
The application period is open until Oct. 9.
Jesuit's selection committee will begin choosing finalists and interviewing top candidates during the fall and winter and are likely to make their selection in early 2016, spokeswoman Erika Tuenge said.
The next president will begin July 1.