Leaving a legacy in alternative education
Prior to the 2016-2017 school year, Catalyst principal Bill Rogers was challenged by Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza to set an audacious goal for himself.
For most of the year, Rogers didn't think there was any way his alternative high school program would hit his new target of 40 graduates, which was 12 more than previous high set just the year before.
Having announced in May that he was retiring from full-time work after 26 years in the district, Rogers got the parting gift he had been hoping for, as the students and staff rallied to bring this year's total up to 40 by graduation day.
"It all came together and the kids who needed to step up stepped up," Rogers said. "The teachers were incredible. My staff just stepped up and went above and beyond. It was awesome."
To put icing on the cake, Rogers was then named the outstanding administrator of the year June 14 at the annual Crystal Apple Awards ceremony.
"It was a sweet, nice way finish my career in the district," Rogers said.
Rogers, who is moving on to teach part-time in George Fox University's masters of teaching program, took over the alternative program nine years ago when it was still known as the Newberg Off Campus Alternative Program (NOCAP) and has helped transform it into model program for students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting.
Like many other programs in the state, even now, the program was housed in portable classrooms and featured just two teachers and students mostly working on packets without any school structure.
Thanks to funds from a recent bond measure, the program is now housed in its own facility, the Springbrook Education Center, which features a construction plaque with Rogers' name on it.
"That will be out there until it falls off," Rogers said. "It's awesome. It really makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I've contributed."
Rogers felt the program had become stable enough that he could step away and he was thrilled when the district hired former district colleague, longtime friend and current Oregon City alternative school principal Tim Graham to be his successor.
"He's the right man for the job," Rogers said. "He's just ready for it, so it's a win-win. We get him and he gets rid of his commute."