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Outgoing school board members reflect on service

Linda Brown and Teri Oelrich also look to the future


Two long-time community leaders’ terms on the Lake Oswego School District Board officially ended on Sunday.

Linda Evelyn Brown and Teri Lynne Oelrich are leaving the board, which has no term limits, to focus on other aspects of their lives. by:  VERN UYETAKE - Teri Oelrich, left, and Linda Brown officially finished their time on the Lake Oswego School District board on Sunday.

Linda Brown

Brown, 62, had an unusually long run — three, four-year terms in position 2.

“In different districts there are some board members who serve for 20 years, but in this community there are so many people who step forward and become knowledgeable,” she said. “I felt it was time to step aside and let someone who is closer to the parent community step forward and add their expertise.”

Her daughter graduated from Lakeridge High School in 1997, and her son got his diploma in 2000. Both since have graduated from college. She was the president of the Pacer Parent Club.

“I believe a school is stronger when parents step forward and participate,” Brown said.

In December, Brown also plans to vacate her seats on two major state organizations, the Oregon School Boards Association, a coalition of education organizations; and Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, the licensing board for teachers.

“I like helping to craft good policy,” Brown said. “That’s one of the things that attracted me to working on the school board.”

Brown, who also chaired the OSBA legislative policy committee, had a great deal to contribute to the board, Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Bill Korach said.

“She’s just involved in so much and brings so much to the table,” Korach said. “What I would also say about Linda is she is very good at looking at the big picture economically.”

Brown said the accomplishments she is most proud of include capital improvements to schools, being on the hiring committee for district staff members and improving school curriculum.

The main challenge in the coming years she foresees for the board is helping the public understand the impact of Common Core Standards, involving changes to standardized state testing that could initially lower students’ scores.

Brown, a Lake Oswego resident for 27 years, plans to spend more time with Lake Oswego Rotary Club, where she supports youth projects, as well as with the Lakewood Center for the Arts, where she is a board member. She will continue serving the Lake Oswego Chapter of Stand for Children, an organization advocating for quality public education.

Brown also will continue volunteering at the Lake Oswego Public Library sorting books and at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center serving lunch.

She also was a member of the Blue Heron Neighborhood Board, the Tualatin Valley TV Board and Junior Women of Lake Oswego, and she made a bid for an Oregon House representative position in 2008.

Her professional life included being the director of civic outreach, a service acclimating businesses to the Lake Oswego community.

She’s looking forward to having more time with her husband of 36 years, Robert Brown, a retired electrical engineer.

Brown, nee Schmidt, said life after the school board also could offer more opportunities.

“When there is something that needed to be done I’d step forward, just like everybody else,” Brown said. “It is part of the culture of the community. It’s part of what makes this community so strong because we step forward and say: I’m here to help. How do you need me?”

Teri Oelrich

Oelrich, 51, said she chose not to make a bid for a second term in position 4 because she wants to spend time with her family and focus on her career.

Her oldest son has graduated from Lakeridge, and her youngest son finishes in 2014. Oelrich, nee Hammer, is marrying fiancé Charles Sauvain in September, whom she met at a fundraiser for leukemia research.

“There’s stuff that’s great about (being a board member), but it does take a lot of time, and I was ready to step back,” Oelrich said.

She is a Pacer Parent Club member.

“I want to get a little bit more involved at Lakeridge High School because it’s my son’s last year, and I haven’t been able to be as involved as I would like,” she said.

She’ll have plenty on her plate, beginning by serendipity a new job earlier this week as a principal at Seattle-based NBBJ, a planning, design and architecture firm with nine offices including the one in Portland that Oelrich will be running.

For the past four years she ran her own business, Nightingales Healthcare Consulting, through which she performed the design of interior spaces, such as the layout of hospital units. Prior to that, she had worked for NBBJ for 20 years.

Oelrich, a Lake Oswego resident for a decade, earned a nursing degree at the University of Washington and a Master of Business Administration in statistics at Syracuse University.

She is the co-president of the Circle of Giving for Oregon Health & Science University, which focuses on women’s health.

Oelrich’s favorite quote, which embodies her inspiration for serving the community, is from former President John F. Kennedy, who said: “I thought someone should do something. Then I realized I was someone.”

That outlook is part of what inspired her to take a leadership class through the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, for which Korach is one of the instructors. During the course, Korach encouraged her to lead the 2008 local option levy campaign, which was successful. Afterward, he said: “Have you ever thought of being on the school board?”

Oelrich ran unopposed for her school board position and said she spent $300 on her campaign.

Korach said the board was lucky to have Oelrich during the past few years, a difficult time for the school district.

“I had to have board members who are bright and engaging and willing to have multiple variables and perspectives, so it has really helped to have Teri’s insight and her heartfelt belief in families and kids,” Korach said.

Oelrich said she is most proud of the effort the board made to address the budget shortfall, which included consolidating elementary schools.

She said the board has other difficult decisions approaching, realigning school boundaries, finding a superintendent to succeed the retirement-bound Korach and determining whether to sell schools based on the results of a real estate study.

Oelrich said her time on the board “was just a fun ride, and I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to serve the community.”

What she loved most about serving as a board member was presenting diplomas at graduation.

“You always start crying because ... handing out the diplomas to those kids is just amazing,” she said. “The kids, you can just see it on their faces. There are some that are in complete shock; there are some that are so happy; there are some that are just crying.”

Board member Bob Barman said Oelrich’s desire to help children and her devotion to the school board are just a part of who she is.

“Teri is just a crown jewel of this community,” he said.

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