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The changing face of Lake Oswego schools

A new vice principal joins LOHS and school board to vote on candidates for three major administrative positions in the education community


The Lake Oswego School Board will vote on three major administrative positions at its next meeting.

Search committees have recommended a new Lake Oswego Schools Foundation executive director, an Oak Creek Elementary School principal and a director of youth sports, pool operations and facilities at the Community School. The school board, which meets next on Aug. 7, approved a search committee’s recommended candidate for the Lake Oswego High School vice principal position last week. The search committees included a school board member, and, depending on the job, one or more teachers, parents, district administrators, additional school board members and foundation board members.

Lake Oswego High School

Freshly minted LOHS Vice Principal Travis Johnson spent a year as an assistant principal and athletic director at Thurston High School in Springfield. He worked at South Eugene High School for nine years, serving as a football coach and counselor.

“The hiring committee was impressed with Travis’ prior experiences, his positive can-do attitude and his energy and enthusiasm for working through tough situations,” LOHS Principal Cindy Schubert said.

Johnson played on the football team at Southern Oregon University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He received his master’s from Pacific University.

The Eugene resident said he has wanted to move north because he and his wife, Erin, adopted their two children, 4-year-old Tariku and 3-year-old Ascuminew, from Ethiopia, and there are more cultural resources in the Portland metro area. But, Johnson couldn’t land a good interview in the area for three years. This time, he was plucked from a pool of 63 applicants for a job at one of the top schools in the state, and his family is settling into a Southeast Portland residence.

“I feel super fortunate, and everyone tells me I should feel super fortunate,” he said.

Jason Wold left the LOHS vice principal job to be assistant director at Thomas A. Edison High School in Beaverton.

Lake Oswego Schools Foundation

Mary Puskas has retired after serving 20 years as foundation executive director, and her likely successor, Sara Patinkin, said she has big shoes to fill. Patinkin has a strong fundraising background.

That’s key to the foundation, which raises dollars to support local teachers, giving the school district $1.7 million last fiscal year.

Patinkin since May 2009 has been the development director for Donate Life Northwest, a nonprofit organ-donation advocacy group. She was one of 16 applicants for the foundation job.

“My whole career has been in nonprofits, and to have the ability to do that in the town in which I live is such a rarity that, when the position came up, there was no question that I would apply,” Patinkin said.

Until two years ago, she was a Portland resident.

She met her husband, Ben, while they were attending Lewis & Clark College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs before receiving a master’s in nonprofit management at Portland State University.

She chose to come to Lake Oswego so their 4-year-old son, Flynn, and 20-month-old daughter, Anna, could attend the well-regarded public schools.

With a father who was a school principal and a mother who is a teacher, Patinkin said she possesses a well-rounded viewpoint.

Foundation Board President Kerry Griffin said Patinkin's enthusiasm and experience helped her stand out from her competitors, and her local connection also impressed the search committee.

"She’s got kids coming into the school district," Griffin said. "It’s great. It shows her personal investment in the community and comprehension of the issues."

One interesting fact about Patinkin: She, her mother and her daughter all share the same birthday: Oct. 31.

Oak Creek Elementary School

Lilian Sarlos, who could replace newly retired Oak Creek Principal Karen Lachman, earned a master’s at Portland State and a bachelor’s at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Sarlos, the top pick out of a 54-applicant pool, for a year was the student manager at Candy Lane and Jennings Lodge elementary schools in Oregon City. For the previous 14 years, Sarlos was employed by Portland Public Schools. Sarlos is now the principal of PDX Summer School.

“I just feel like I’m walking into a fantastic situation, and I’m really excited to meet the families and get started,” Sarlos said.

Sarlos, who is fluent in Spanish, came highly recommended, school district Superintendent Bill Korach said.

“Lilian is an expert in issues related to English language learners and has book knowledge as well as first-hand experience teaching and leading immersion programs,” Portland State Assistant Professor Deborah Peterson said in a letter of recommendation.

The search committee was split on two other candidates, and because neither side could agree the process had to begin anew.

“This time we have a candidate with the right stuff,” Korach said.

Sarlos said she and her family may someday relocate to Lake Oswego from Northeast Portland, but that’s not the plan so far. She is married to Lee Foxall, and they have two children: Ryan, 18, and Ivy, 13. Her son is off to Knox College in Illinois.

“I think it’s perfect timing that he’s off to a new adventure, and I’m off to a new adventure,” Sarlos said.

The Community School

The man who could replace the now-retired Mike Coulson as the Community School’s director of youth sports, pool operations and facilities might look a little familiar: Bruce Plato. Plato retired this year as principal at LOHS after 11 years.

“I’m still looking forward to being able to give back,” he said. “I’m not ready to be done and just stay at home every day.”

He served at Cleveland High School in Portland for six years, has been a high school administrator for 27 years and an educator for 34 years. He has coached a variety of sports and participated in athletics in high school and college.

Plato earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Oregon State University and received his master’s from Lewis & Clark College.

Korach said he chose Plato because he needed someone especially talented for the position since it will be part time and previously was full time.

Plato said the part-time position at the Community School will allow him more time to volunteer and to spend time with his wife, Julie, and his two daughters, 28-year-old Caitlin Plato and 31-year-old Sarah Loftin.

The job also will afford him a chance to stay connected to the school community he loves.

“I care a lot about the Lake Oswego School District,” Plato said. “I believe it is just an amazing district.”




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  • 20 Aug 2014

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