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Parkrose’s Karen Gray selected Oregon’s Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Karen Gray, Parkrose School District Superintendent since 2007, has been named the 2018 Oregon Superintendent of the Year by the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE) and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). This award automatically places Gray in the running for National Superintendent of the Year Award from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), sponsored by First Student, VALIC, and AASA.  Gray’s selection as Oregon Superintendent of the Year will be formally announced at the Oregon School Boards Association Annual Conference in Portland on November 11.

"Dr. Karen Gray is one of the hardest working superintendents in the state of Oregon,” said Darin Drill, Cascade School District Superintendent and OASE President. “She is devoted to improving educational outcomes for all students across the entire state. She is highly respected by her peers, advocates tirelessly for the needs of all educators, and cares deeply about every single student in her district. Her school district is fortunate to have such a talented and intelligent leader.”

Gray has been an administrator in Oregon since 1996, in the Coos Bay and Portland areas. When Gray came to Parkrose School District ten years ago, the School Board gave her the task of reestablishing the best parts of the district. Since then, Gray has worked tirelessly to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in her district through the advancement of AVID programs, staff training on restorative justice, an Equity and Data Committee made up of parents, staff, and helping agencies, and preschools available in three out of four elementary schools. Gray’s efforts have resulted in a high school graduation rate in the top 10 in the state, ELL scores that have improved enough that the district no longer qualifies for additional state targeted funding, and significant student growth over the last four years in particular.

"Karen's work in Parkrose is a collaborative effort, and that has happened through her leadership and support of district administration, principals and staff. She makes a conscious effort to reflect on her practice as a leader and empowers our leadership in the district to work as team to support our students and families. She is a champion for our kids, and it shows in her passion for the Parkrose School District,” said Michael Lopes-Serrao, Assistant Superintendent/Director of School improvement.

Gray takes an active role in her district and community. She authors a segment of the local paper entitled “Superintendent’s Corner,” and wrote a “No Hate” letter to all the parents in the Parkrose school district before the start of classes this year. Gray is committed to supporting her staff, creating choices for individual Professional Development opportunities and designing a new teacher mentor program.

"It's been a pleasure working closely with Karen for six years,” said Samuel Breyer, Superintendent at Multnomah Education Service District. “In every group, at every table, in every room, she is a passionate advocate for equity.  She has been an unwavering voice for ensuring that we honor students' cultures and serve all students well.  Karen's work impacts not only the students of Parkrose, but also our region and the state."

As part of her commitment to equity and diversity, Gray has chaired the Oregon Educator Equity Advisory Group and is a member of the HB 2016 Committee working to develop a P-20 plan that ensures African and African American students have academic success.

In her nomination of Gray, School Board Chair MaryLu Baetkey emphasized the positive impact Gray has had on student lives and noted that the entire Parkrose School Board endorsed the nomination. “With steadfast determination focusing on the needs of Parkrose students, Dr. Gray has artfully and with tenacity gone about putting the pieces together, “said Baetkey. “In particular in the last four years there has been acceleration in moving us into another Golden Age where all can be proud of the schools they go to and the community we live. I am so proud of COSA for seeing her skills and awarding her this honor.”

Gray will be honored at the 2017 Oregon School Boards Association Convention November 11;  at the 2018 OASE Winter Conference in Lincoln City in January; at the 2018 AASA National Conference in Nashville, TN, in February; and at the 2018 COSA Annual Conference in Seaside in June.


About COSA and OASE

The Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) serves and represents more than 2,300 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 an administrative licensure and advanced degree program. 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