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Cascade’s Matt Thatcher Selected Oregon High School Principal of the Year

SALEM, Ore. – Matt Thatcher, Principal at Cascade High School in Turner, OR, since 2007, has been named the Oregon High School Principal of the Year by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). Thatcher is now in the running for the National High School Principal of the Year Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Thatcher has served Cascade High school for over 17 years, including as Athletic Director for six years prior to being named Principal.

Two years ago, Cascade High School made it into the top 20 high schools in the state of Oregon for graduation rates; at the time the graduation rate was 89.7%. Since that time the rate has continued to go up and is now 94% for the 4-year cohort – one of the best graduation rates in the state. Thatcher has focused efforts on making sure that 9th graders are on track to graduate; the current 9th grade on track rate is over 97%. Cascade tracks each 9th grade student and takes extra care with students who failed core classes in junior high; those students are supported by a teacher and a counselor to assist them so that they are successful in high school. Each year more students are improving academically in their first year of high school.

Because of his length of service at Cascade, Thatcher is the most veteran high school principal in their athletic conference and continues to be the “go to” resource for all the other principals in the league for advice and suggestions for operating a high school effectively.

"A quantitative evaluation of Principal Thatcher's impact on student learning in his district is clearly apparent,” OASSA President Lynn Jackson said. “However, beyond the numbers, Matt Thatcher has made a qualitative impact on educational leadership throughout the state that is much more difficult to measure and quantify. He often acts as an experienced mentor and soundboard for up and coming administrators facing difficult situations and decisions. His leadership has extended well beyond his building's walls and district's boundaries. Oregon is very fortunate to have him among our ranks of educational leaders."

Nearly a decade ago Thatcher began the process of building Professional Learning Communities in the high school and has continued to adjust the PLC process to get as much improvement in student learning as possible. He immersed himself in AVID training to find ways to improve professional development for his staff, and oversaw the implementation of AVID for his high school. By combining the AVID work with PLCs, Thatcher has added a new and improved dimension to learning at Cascade High School. He has now introduced the AVID process to the district’s junior high school as well as elementary schools.

The graduation rate, 9th grade on track rate, PLC and AVID work, improved testing scores over time, state level leadership and mentoring and hiring of a great staff over the years are a testament to his hard work. Thatcher has created a positive culture through clear communication, transparency and honest conversations to make Cascade High School a place where students and staff are expected to work hard and play hard.

Thatcher will be honored at the Annual COSA Conference in Seaside, June 24-26. He will also be honored by NASSP in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

Click here to view the award video.


About COSA and OASSA

The Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) serves and represents more than 2,400 school administrators, managers and executives. COSA was founded in 1974 to give Oregon's education leaders a united voice in helping to shape public policy, advocate for schools and speak on behalf of students. In addition to advocacy, COSA supports and develops educational leaders with professional development opportunities -- including statewide conferences, regional seminars and workshops, and much more -- and a number of exclusive member services. Areas of focus include school finance and legislative services. A member-driven umbrella organization, COSA is governed by an elected Board of Directors that represents the organization's four Departments: the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE), the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA) and the Oregon Association of Central Office Administrators (OACOA). For more information, visit


Matt Thatcher