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A Higher Calling

by: Vern Uyetake, Carol Middleton, Lake Oswego School District’s executive director of schools and educational programs, will leave her position in June to become the new director of curriculum, instruction and evaluation for the Clackamas Education Service District based in Milwaukie. Middleton is the former principal at River Grove Elementary.

Carol Middleton has announced her resignation as the Lake Oswego School District's executive director of schools and educational programs, but where she's off to next isn't that far away.

Middleton, 52, has accepted an offer to become the new director of curriculum, instruction and evaluation for the Clackamas Education Service District - which assists 10 districts, including Lake Oswego.

'I'll be working with and for those districts to support their needs and meet the needs of the students,' Middleton said. 'I find it invigorating.'

You could say it's a homecoming of sorts of Middleton, who years ago planned and coordinated professional development for the Willamette Education Service District in Salem.

Both education service districts aim to assist schools with services they can't readily provide on their own.

Middleton, who will work out of the CESD's Milwaukie office, plans to apply her broad experiences to support the schools and different student populations throughout Clackamas County. Her responsibilies will include providing resources, research, teacher training and fostering instruction.

'I've always been interested in working with diverse populations and hone instruction to fit the needs of the learner,' she said. 'You don't expect an opportunity like this to come along at this stage of your career.'

Middleton's resume includes experience as a teacher, principal and administrator at a variety of schools. She has also worked in special programs, including TAG and special education, and is a former speech language pathologist.

She has been with the Lake Oswego School District since 2001, when she was recruited from Portland Public Schools to become the principal of River Grove Elementary School - the district's only school with Title 1 funding.

There, she was required to develop a plan for the school, which included setting up a curriculum that would best utilize those government dollars.

According to a district press release, Middleton's expertise in curriculum and instruction, school improvement and assessment led to extraordinary progress in student achievement at River Grove.

'Coming to LO was certainly a wonderful opportunity to work with the River Grove community and under the leadership of (Superintendent) Bill Korach,' she said. 'I was able to learn from the best.'

In 2005, Middleton was selected - in part because of her extensive background in special education - to move into the administration building and into her current position. Her responsibilities include overseeing programs, school operations, enrollment and staffing, improvement plans and district in-service days.

On Monday nights, you can most likely find her in Lake Oswego School Board meetings and presenting to the board on a variety of issues.

Because of her easy-going demeanor and consistently positive attitude, it's easy to see why Middleton found so much success in building relationships with teachers, students and teachers.

'Thanks to the level of her expertise and her work ethic, she has made significant contributions in a short period of time,' the LOSD press release said.

In hieratical terms, Middleton falls in the No. 2 administrator spot after Korach. Her annual salary was $100,000 with a retirement plan contribution - compensation for a jam-packed 50-plus hour work week.

Middleton, a Portland resident and Oregon native, plans to stay with the district through the spring. She said she does - and will - miss working with children on a daily basis, but loves the opportunity set before her.

'Children are my first love,' said Middleton, who has two grandchildren. 'I love to be connected with kids, so I'll have to figure out that piece. But serving the schools here has been a wonderful challenge.'

The district has begun searching for a new central office administrator with high levels of expertise in curriculum, instruction and elementary education.

'We will continue to have strong support from Carol,' Korach said 'Her (new) job is a perfect match for her strengths and also good for us.'