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Letter to the editor: Feb. 25, 2012: Reynolds principal


Jeff Gilbert reshaped Reynolds High, put students' interests first

The Gresham Outlook recently published articles about Reynolds High School Principal Jeff Gilbert. Many of the people expressing opinions in the online comments don't seem to have read articles in recent years about the high school and numerous positive outcomes for students.

It takes time to reshape a school when cleaning up the mess left by previous folks. When someone comes along who makes changes happen quickly, many have a hard time adjusting - even though changes were long overdue.

Keep in mind the climate recently in this district: The turmoil of teacher contract negotiations, a district office seeking a new superintendent, each group with its own agenda.

It's so easy to focus on negatives, especially for those who have not actually set foot in the school in many years. My nieces and nephew have been educated at Reynolds. One currently attends Reynolds.

I believe the political infighting in the district should be put aside and the best interests of the students should be top priority. The Reynolds School District needs to keep one of the real positives for students that it has: Principal Jeff Gilbert.

He seems to be the one person consistently putting the interests of the students first.

Some positives at Reynold High in recent years:

• December 2011: Under Gilbert, test scores improved and the graduation rate increased. Students had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when the Oregon State Supreme Court held session on campus. And 'Living History' day was held at the school, honoring more than 300 military veterans.

• June 2011: Three years ago, Reynolds was graduating fewer than 60 percent of its students. Last June, Reynolds graduated its largest class ever, evidence of Reynolds' renewal, which can be seen and felt in the school's classrooms. Students are excited about learning, and without a doubt Gilbert should be recognized for bringing new energy, creativity and enthusiasm to the school. His real secret has been finding ways to motivate students and staff toward higher goals. The metamorphosis is the result of inspired leadership and an altered culture.

• October 2010 (Reynolds Students to the Rescue): Gilbert got in touch with Michael Winning, the Earth School's development director, and offered to ask students in Reynolds construction classes to rebuild a (vandalized) playground.

• June 2010: Reynolds reverses dropout pattern. It cracks down on bullying and it emphasizes academics. Reynolds graduated its largest class ever - 579 students.

Cathy Mallory