Decision comes just days after giving final three candidates a tour of the district and second interviews

And then there was one.

After considering a pool of 30 candidates for Gervais School District superintendent, then narrowing that to three candidates, the Gervais School Board selected Matthew Henry, an alumnus of North Marion High School, as its new superintendent Tuesday.

Henry, who is currently a high school principal in the Siuslaw School District, was one of three candidates who toured Gervais School District and took part in second round interviews Thursday.

The other final candidates were Terry Bennett of Klamath County School District and Russ Pickett of Tenino School District in Washington.

The tours were guided by district staff members, who got to know the candidates as they escorted the finalists through each of the three schools. Sharman Ensminger-Stapp, principal of Gervais Elementary, was one of the guides, and she expressed optimism after meeting the prospective administrators for the first time.

“Today was new for a lot of us that were not on the selection and hiring committee,” said Ensminger-Stapp on Thursday. “It was our opportunity to get to meet the candidates and really spend some one-on-one time to get to know them, so it was really an enjoyable day.”

Ensminger-Stapp spent close to an hour with each candidate and showed them around Gervais Elementary while discussing the features of the school and addressing ideas for future growth.

All three candidates possess a breadth of administrative experience coming into the hiring process. But Henry stood out as the right candidate.

"As we got to know Matt throughout the search, he was the candidate having the experience and leadership skills we had identified to lead Gervais into the future," said board Chair Brent LaFollette in a press release.

Henry is the principal of Siuslaw High School in Florence, where he has worked for seven years as an administrator. With nearly 400 students, Siuslaw is roughly the same size as Gervais. Henry was previously dean of students and assistant principal at Grant Union High School, in addition to teaching experience that spans 17 years in Oregon and Idaho. He grew up in North Marion School District and met his wife, Karen, while working at the Birds Eye Cannery in Woodburn for the summer between college terms. He has a Master of Science in interdisciplinary studies from Western Oregon University and a Bachelor of Science degree in history from Oregon State University. He fulfilled his graduate administrative licensure studies at the University of Oregon.

"We are called as educators to equip our entire student population to adapt and be ready for the changes around them in a very competitive global economy," Henry said in a press release. "We must meet them where they are and help guide them ever-forward, every moment of every day toward skills that will prepare them for their futures. I enthusiastically look forward to bringing the Gervais School District's students and education professionals together around a vibrant, always-improving learning community. I'm truly honored and very excited about the board selecting me to be the next superintendent for the Gervais schools."

Henry was selected above Pickett, who has been superintendent of Tenino School District, with a population of 1,120 students, for the past six years, and Bennett, who is the curriculum and community college administrator for Klamath County School District, which serves 6,100 students.

After meeting with each of the candidates, Ensminger-Stapp was impressed with the finalists chosen by the district’s screening committee.

“I so appreciate the work that our board and the screening and hiring committee has put into the process,” she said. “They have definitely done a great deal of work to find, I believe, some highly qualified candidates that appear to be very eager and willing to serve our district.”

After the tours, each finalist was invited to a second round of interviews, conducted in executive session by the school board.

“I think everyone is very excited to move forward with these next steps,” said Ensminger-Stapp. “I’m trusting our board is doing wonderful work and will move us forward.”

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