Spotlight on Roseburg School District
Elementary school students learned about circuit boards this school year from the school district’s STEAM Team, a group of teachers dedicated to teaching lessons about science, technology, engineering, art and technology. The team rotates throughout elementary schools throughout the week. Photos courtesy of Roseburg School District.
“Schools are the center of our community. Schools provide predictability and are places where kids know that they will be loved, fed and cared for.”
– Roseburg School District Superintendent Jared Cordon
Spotlight on Roseburg School District
The 5,600 students who attend Roseburg School District are preparing for their futures. The district is passionate about student achievement and is dedicated to providing programs that focus on wellness, safety and meaningful connections.
“I’m optimistic that the students today will make a difference tomorrow,” said Roseburg School District Superintendent Jared Cordon, who began his role as superintendent in 2019.
When Cordon was a child growing up in Oregon, his family worked in the construction and timber industries. Now he is finding ways to help build the workforce of tomorrow.
Cordon explained that the district’s strategic plan guides decisions to provide all students with the care, support and instruction needed to graduate from high school with a plan. “Schools are the center of our community. Schools provide predictability and are places where kids know that they will be loved, fed and cared for,” he said. “I want our staff and kids to wake up every morning and say, ‘I get to go to school today.’”
The Roseburg School Board plays a critical role in championing the district’s vision. “Our seven-person dedicated volunteer school board is committed to kids having great experiences,” said Cordon. “They work to ensure that every kid is successful and graduates with a plan.”
“I want students to know that they are at the heart of every decision that we make,” said Rebecca Larson, board vice chair. “Every school board member seeks to represent community interests when making decisions for students. We are each active participants in this community and try to listen and learn as community members come forward with suggestions or concerns. I love serving on the school board as a current Roseburg School District parent because I am actively participating in our schools with my children.”
Larson also shared that as she associates with parents, guardians, teachers, and students at school events and extracurricular activities, she has an opportunity to understand their experiences and perspectives. She uses what she learns to try to make the school system better for everyone.
Partnerships begin with families. “Our educators work alongside families to develop these incredible kids and enhance what families are already teaching,” said Cordon. “We like to ask, ‘What do you want for your child?’” The district strives to provide options for students, from creating a virtual school option to figuring out how to design learning teams.
Talented administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, librarians, counselors, special education specialists, coaches, support staff and nutrition teams work together to help promote student success. “We want to make sure that students are seen, heard and respected,” said Cordon.
In addition to emotional wellness, the district focuses on the physical safety of students. Fencing, visitor management systems, and emergency response training have been top district priorities since the school board voted last June to immediately begin improving safety standards at every school. Additional infrastructure improvements to further address security, health and safety issues, and to expand career and technical education learning areas will require support from the greater community through a capital improvement bond.
The district looks toward the future. “Part of my job is to never be satisfied,” said Cordon. “There are always ways to improve for the benefit of our students, staff and families. We work with our community to determine the best ways to move forward.”
Preparing students for their futures begins at the start of their academic journeys. The Pre-K program supports children’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development in preparation for their next steps.
“Early on, we make the classroom a community,” says Green Elementary Principal Lisa Dickover. “Community in a classroom allows kids to learn. We focus on partnerships and working together to develop social skills. These skills provide a path to lifelong success.”
This strong foundation allows students to immerse themselves in the learning options available. “We look at the growth and notice when kids light up, like when they figure out how to read or learn to play a saxophone,” said Cordon.
From STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning and robotics team opportunities, connections to enjoyable learning experiences occur in elementary and continue into middle and high school. In addition to a traditional academic curriculum, students have access to a variety of hands-on and critical thinking opportunities.
Eighth-graders from Fremont Middle School’s woodshop class volunteer building bed frames for Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit organization that provides beds for children in need. Student Kaeden Hobson said, “I’ve never been able to do something like this and it feels really good! Everyone here are great kids, great people, and I love the teacher. Everyone here works hard.”
At the high school level there are nine career and technical education (CTE) programs (also known as vocational education): Automotive; manufacturing; carpentry, drafting; hospitality, tourism and recreation; early childhood education; business and marketing; agriculture and natural resources; and health occupations. These programs often involve partnering with industry leaders.
Students work on tires as automotive instructor Don Zell looks on recently in Roseburg High School’s auto shop program.
High school students may also take dual credit college-level courses through Umpqua Community College. This terrific program is available at no additional cost to students.
“The pathway for kids to be successful includes increased rigor and learning opportunities of choice. This gives students autonomy needed to thrive,” said Cordon.
Opportunities also include extracurricular and volunteer activities for students to build connections with the community and expand interests. There’s something for everyone from robotics, crochet to chess clubs. The district has eliminated fees to encourage participation in athletics and before/after school activities.
“Families are trusting us to care for their kids, and we acknowledge this trust. At the end of the day when we return kids to families, our goal is to return kids who are a little smarter, a little better,” said Cordon.
In mid-March the district invited students, staff and community members to a Winter Gathering. which was supported by The Ford Family Foundation. Attendees from young children to people in the workforce shared their hopes and dreams for Roseburg students. Similar events are planned in the near future.
School Board members Rod Cotton, left, and Rebecca Larson, second from left, hand out free books for all ages at the district’s Winter Gathering community engagement event in March.
“Our community should be proud,” said Cordon. “Spend time with kids, and you’ll see that families are doing a great job raising kids.”
This article highlights a fraction of the amazing learning taking place at Roseburg School District. To learn more about this remarkable district, visit www.roseburg.k12.or.us.