Riverdale School District is looking for a new school superintendent.

Thomas Hagerman is departing the Dunthorpe district after four years to become the new superintendent of schools for River Forest School District 90 in Chicago, Ill.

Hagerman, a graduate of Lewis and Clark College who worked in the Beaverton School District previously, has served as the Riverdale chief since the summer of 2004.

For the three years previous, Hagerman was the principal at Cedar Park Middle School in Beaverton. Prior to that he served as associate principal at the then-brand new Stoller Middle School in Beaverton and prior to that as the vice principal at Milwaukie Middle School in the North Clackamas School District.

Hagerman obtained his doctorate from the University of Oregon in Policy, Organization and Management, and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Lewis and Clark College.

His new position in Chicago begins July 1.

River Forest School District is an elementary district comprised of about 1,400 students in three schools and is located in the Oak Park neighborhood, a western suburb of Chicago. District 90 was founded in 1850. Strong community support and extensive parental involvement have assisted the schools in achieving a reputation for educational excellence. The academic success of students is demonstrated by the fact that 90 to 100 percent of River Forest students meet or exceed the state goals of learning as assessed by the state.

Hagerman leaves behind some strong supporters.

'Dr. Hagerman has been a tremendous asset to the Riverdale School District over the past many years and his work in curriculum and instruction, professional development and finances has paved the road for even further success in the future,' said Riverdale Board Chair, Chris Hall. 'We are extremely sad to see him go, although we are pleased for his continued success and River Forest's good fortune.'

And leaders in River Forest appear ecstatic to have him join that district.

'We are thrilled to have Dr. Hagerman join District 90. The process to select him was thorough and included input from all stakeholder groups,' said River Forest Board President Ronald Atkins. The search was conducted by School Exec Connect, a search firm chosen for its expertise in attracting top administrators.

The consultants screened candidates from a field of almost 50 applicants. As the process unfolded, Hagerman became the clear and enthusiastic choice of the board.

Hagerman said that his interest in River Forest was piqued by the devotion of families and community members to their students and schools.

'The more I have learned about River Forest School District 90, the more I have been struck by the alignment between my core values, beliefs and experiences and those of the district,' Hagerman said.

'Dr. Hagerman comes from an extremely high-achieving school district similar in many ways to District 90,' said River Forest board member Juli Geldner. 'His experience, strengths and talents are a strong match for the attributes that the district desires in their new superintendent.'

Kristen Kohnstamm, Riverdale Board vice chair, said that 'Thomas has done great work here and created a lot of positive momentum, so it is even more difficult to see him go now, although he has been clear with the board that all of our current initiatives belong to the whole school community and must continue moving forward.'

In a previous interview with the Review, Hagerman said that he was always interested in working with children. He grew up in Little Rock, Ark. and came to Oregon to attend college.

After completing his masters, he found a job teaching in the Portland Public Schools. He said that Measure 5 had just started to kick in when he first started teaching, giving him little stability. He taught English at Wilson and Lincoln high schools before moving around to various middle schools, where he taught everything from art to keyboarding to literature.

Even as a young teacher, however, Hagerman found a way to get involved. He served on all sorts of committees and took on a variety of leadership roles. Then his self-described 'go-getter' nature took over, and he decided to return to school to get his administrative license.

But despite his desire to take a larger leadership role in education, Hagerman also wanted to stay close to students.

'That is one of the big pieces that attracted me to Riverdale, because I can continue working with kids pretty closely,' said Hagerman back in 2004 when he accepted the Riverdale position.

Hagerman replaced Jim Mabbott, who served as the Riverdale superintendent for nine years.

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