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Beaverton taps Canby leader as its new schools superintendent

Jeff Rose of Canby replaces retiring Jerry Colonna
by: Christopher Onstott Jeff Rose (center) talks with Carl Mead (left) and Ron Porterfield, both deputy superintendents, after Rose was hired as the new Beaverton school superintendent at a school board meeting Monday evening.

The Beaverton School District this week learned who would be at its helm for the 2011-12 school year.

The Beaverton School Board hired Jeff Rose as its new superintendent Monday night.

Rose currently serves as the superintendent of the Canby School District, which educates about 5,000 students in nine schools in Clackamas County.

'Dr. Jeff Rose brings a track record of innovation and unrelenting focus on advancing student achievement,' said Board Chairman Tom Quillin. 'The board selected Dr. Rose for his proven focus on high expectations, collaboration, integrity and transparency.

'Dr. Rose is the right leader to help drive our schools to the next level.'

Before taking over the leadership of Canby schools in 2008, Rose served as the school improvement director in Portland's Parkrose district. In the past 16 years, the 38-year-old Canby resident has also served as an educational assistant, classroom teacher and principal, beginning his career as a student teacher at Errol Hassell Elementary School in Beaverton before being hired in his first teaching position in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.

Rose will step into Beaverton's top job July 1 to replace Superintendent Jerry Colonna, who is retiring in June after eight years leading the school district and 44 years in public education.

Colonna said Rose was 'the right match at the right time for the right reasons.'

'I feel that the district is on a bit of a plateau right now, and a new leader can help us make a leap forward,' Colonna added. 'I think Dr. Rose is going to be extremely successful.'

Not unanimous

The School Board made its selection during a business meeting Monday night at Elmonica Elementary School, where district leaders, staff, union representatives, parents and board members' families gathered to meet the new leader. Rose was sitting in the audience with his wife Lisa as the board voted on his selection.

In a 5-1 vote, with Board member Lisa Shultz opposing the motion, the School Board named Rose the new leader of Oregon's third largest district. Board member Mary VanderWeele was not in attendance as she was in India on a work assignment for Nike.

Prior to the vote, Shultz explained her opposition, saying that the board had 'a very impressive group' of highly qualified candidates that it considered.

'We are not unanimous in this very difficult decision,' she said.

Although Shultz said Rose was not her top choice, 'moving forward, our new superintendent has my full and unequivocal support.'

Rose addressed the crowd following the decision, saying he was 'truly humbled' to be following Colonna and 'thrilled to accept' the position as the district's chief executive officer.

The terms of his negotiated contract with the district have not been released.

'Perfect match'

'We couldn't be more excited,' Quillin said as he watched Rose interacting with staff for the first time during a reception following the announcement.

'He is a perfect match to the profile our community helped us develop,' added Board member Karen Cunningham.

Both said they were confident Rose could make the transition from a small district to one that serves more than 38,000 students in 51 schools.

'The district he is in now is not that different from the one Jerry was in when he was hired,' Cunningham noted. 'His experience as a leader of a school district will translate. It's just a matter of taking the next step to a bigger district.'

Colonna said he planned to aid in the transition. 'The Beaverton School District was five times larger than Redmond, where I came from. I can tell him about that experience,' he said.

Colonna added that he was also in the process of making final selections for principals at schools that have vacancies or retirements on the horizon.

'I plan to leave him with some very good leaders,' he said, including deputy superintendents Carl Mead and Ron Porterfield, whom Colonna has been mentoring this year.

Emotional decision

Rose said he was filled with a myriad of emotions Monday night.

'I'm excited, proud, overwhelmed - of course there is this tug, too,' Rose admitted. 'I'm leaving a great district. A part of me is apprehensive about how people in Canby will react to the news.

'Seven weeks ago I never would have imagined all of this.'

Rose was one of the 12 potential leaders recruited for Beaverton's top job by the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, which worked with the board to identify and hire a new superintendent. An additional 31 candidates started the application process on their own.

Board members said several elements led to Rose's rise as the district's finalist.

Board member Sarah Smith said she was impressed with Rose's strength in collaboration and experience with professional learning communities.

'He communicated a real desire to really dive in,' she added. 'He's also targeted in his direction.

'Our struggle as a district is that we try to do too many things. We have to be able to target our focus to make sure we are truly identifying the core needs of our kids, and I believe he will do that.'

During a visit to the Canby district prior to spring break, Shultz, Jeff Hicks and LeeAnn Larsen had the opportunity to meet with Rose's staff. The board members said they were pleased with the feedback they received.

'He's forward thinking, especially with strategic planning and his interest in using technology,' Hicks said.

Colonna was not surprised by what the board learned during the selection process.

'Dr. Rose is a really intelligent, articulate, influential communicator,' Colonna said. 'He has the ability to look at really complex systems problems and help come up with creative and beneficial solutions, and that is exactly what this school district needs.'