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New Beginnings

West Linn-Wilsonville School District's new superintendent Bill Rhoades looks forward to a year of opportunities as he settles into his new role
by: vern uyetake Rhoades stands at the newly remodeled main entryway to the district office, which is currently being remodeled.

Like many beginning a new school year in West Linn and Wilsonville, Bill Rhoades is excited to meet new people, set up his desk, learn something and get involved with school activities. While Rhoades isn't a student, per se, the new West Linn-Wilsonville School District superintendent said his passion for learning would reach all district schools.

'I love to learn and so working in complex systems, where you get an opportunity to work with really smart people to solve complex problems, is a really enjoyable place to be,' Rhoades said. 'It's not always easy or comfortable … but what you learn over time is that you aren't going to learn if there isn't some level of difficulty.'

Rhoades said that the next school year will be filled with opportunities - such as new learning options at the two new schools opening this fall, Trillium Creek Primary School in West Linn and Lowrie Primary School in Wilsonville.

'There are few communities that are growth communities. I think it really reflects the support of this community for schools,' he said. 'It will be exciting to watch those schools sprout.'

And Rhoades said this observation is important to him.

'I want to spend time listening right now,' he said, and meeting everyone - staff, faculty, parents and students.

'I'm just trying to meet with as many folks as possible,' he said.

So far, he noted, he's been impressed. Rhoades said that the school district has 'a culture of excellence in everything that we do' because of the talent it attracts and the accountability it holds to high standards.

'We want to be good instructional leaders. I want the district to pay really close attention to their own vision, which is a really high level of teaching and learning,' he said. 'That's an attractor for people who really appreciate high-quality work, opportunities to learn - being in an intellectual learning community where all of us as professionals can grow.'

Rhoades noted recent growth opportunities for some district educators, including the many assistant principals becoming principals and current principals taking on expanded roles. For example, Sunset Primary School Principal Kathy Ludwig will now serve as assistant superintendent and work out of the district office. And Stafford Primary School Principal Patrick Meigs will lead Lowrie in its first year.

While school isn't in session this summer, Rhoades said that he has taken this time to really get to know the new school board members - Betty Reynolds, Cheri Zimmerman and Kristen Keswick.

'That newness is really exciting. Once you have established (a) culture (of excellence),' Rhoades said of attracting the new talents, 'it keeps sustaining itself because of who it attracts and the support it continues to generate.'

While Rhoades has plenty of homework this summer to gear up for the first day of school Sept. 6, he's also enjoying sunnier weather to maintain his active lifestyle - running, playing tennis and enjoying the outdoors.

'I run a marathon or two every year,' he said. 'I've run 37 marathons now - including nine Boston Marathons. But really, all of that was just to get in shape for tennis.'

Rhoades said he used to play in the United States Tennis Association league 'off and on' for years. He also loves music - dabbling in piano - and spending time outside.

'I'm a naturalist. I was a high school biology teacher,' he said. 'I enjoy the outdoors and field work.'

Rhoades said that his family - wife, Kimberley; son, Kiger, 10; and daughter, Karah, 7 - is currently in the process of moving to West Linn from Hillsboro.

'I am excited to be here. I chose to be here,' Rhoades said. 'I'm looking forward to being here for a long time. I couldn't be more pleased.'