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New Harvey Clarke Elementary School principal says shes all about first R

changes -- At Neil Armstrong Middle School, runner-up for lead job becomes the new assistant principal

If Jerrie Matuszak believes in anything, she believes in the power of reading to improve a person's life.

That's why she's dedicated years to instilling in her students a love of the first 'R.'

Matuszak, 40, will continue that personal passion when she takes over July 1 as principal of Harvey Clarke Elementary School in Forest Grove. She was hired by the school district last week to replace Becky White, who is retiring as principal after eight years at the school.

'I am so excited and just absolutely thrilled to become part of the Forest Grove community,' said Matuszak, who is a Title I coordinator and Reading First coach at Sunrise Elementary School for Greater Albany Public Schools.

Title I is a federal grant that supplies funds for special reading, math and science programs in public school districts.

For Matuszak, reading is 'the foundation for everything we do in education and what makes us who we are.'

Before joining the Albany district, Matuszak was a Title I teacher and supervisor at Hawthorne Elementary School in the Sweet Home School District. Before that, she was a classroom teacher at Oak Heights Elementary School in Sweet Home for 10 years.

Born in San Bernardino, Calif., Matuszak has lived nearly all her life in Oregon. She and her husband, Bob, have six children.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande and a master's degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Between now and the end of June, Matuszak plans to meet with Harvey Clarke staff and parents to get acquainted and learn more about the school's improvement plan, part of a district-wide move toward better school effectiveness.

She is looking forward to being a building principal.

'I wanted to move further into administration to be able to affect the lives of kids through the teaching staff,' Matuszak said. 'That's what makes or breaks a student's public education experience.'

Gendre hired at NAMS

In another administrative shift announced last week, Guillaume Gendre has been named as the new assistant principal at Neil Armstrong Middle School.

Gendre was a finalist for the NAMS principal job last month but finished second to Mario Alba, a middle school principal in Hillsboro.

Alba replaced Sherry Adams, who retired after six years as principal at NAMS.

Gendre replaces David Riddle, who resigned the assistant principal post to become a classroom teacher. He will begin his new duties July 1.

Gendre is currently the school change coordinator at Marshall High School in Portland, where he administers the Fred Meyer Trust grant and works in curriculum development.

He holds master's degrees from Portland State University and Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV).