Paul Gordon thankful for time as Wenatchee School District superintendent
WENATCHEE — After announcing plans to resign as the superintendent of the Wenatchee School District, Paul Gordon said during his time he’s remained focused on one thing: the students.
“It’s not always been easy, it’s not always been easy,” Gordon said in an interview Friday morning. “But I feel like we’ve always done the right thing for our students. And I remember during my interview, standing up on the stage at the commons at Wenatchee High School and saying that, that we would make decisions off of the need for our students, and I really believe we’ve done that.”
Gordon resigned effective June 30 during a special board meeting Thursday afternoon after less than three years as superintendent.
Gordon said during Thursday’s meeting and several times Friday morning that the decision was made with family in mind. Gordon plans to move back to the Chicago area and stay in education, though he said he does not have another job. He is married with two children.
“It was an exceptional experience because of the people in this community,” Gordon said. “That is really what drew me to this position and why it makes it so hard to leave this position, the people.”
Throughout the interview, Gordon expressed appreciation for the community relationships built during his time, including with Confluence Health, Columbia Valley Community Health, Catholic Charities, local police, the Chelan County PUD, CAFÉ, and Parque Padrinos.
“It’s just been an incredible wealth of partnerships that we’ve been able to do some different things,” Gordon said, including expanding wifi access during the early stages of the pandemic. “That’s not a Paul thing. That’s a ‘we’ thing.”
In October, the board approved the district’s five-year strategic plan, work that began soon after Gordon took over.
“Through a pandemic, our district continued to move forward and continued to develop an incredibly thoughtful strategic plan that will be in the place for the next five years, that will truly transform student lives,” Gordon said. “That was a real collaborative effort in developing that.”
Gordon is proud of the district’s structured literacy program because “too many of our students are not reading at a proficient level, and we’re going to change that.”
Gordon’s time came with challenges.
Gordon said there needed to be “some healing” early in his tenure and appreciated the board members he’s worked with.
On the job for less than a year before the pandemic, Gordon said the early days brought an unknown and “there’s no superintendent handbook for that bad boy.” But he said his departure is not related to pandemic restrictions loosening.
“This was a personal decision with family. There is no other ‘why,’” Gordon said. “I love this community. I love our school district. I really do. I’ve been crying like a baby for about four or five days now because I care so much about the work here.”
Gordon’s departure announcement comes later in the year than nearby superintendents planning to leave their districts.
While he wishes the decision had come earlier, he’s confident in Wenatchee’s administrators, cabinet team, leadership and other personnel to keep things running smoothly.
“They’re going to be fine,” he said. “They’re going to be fine. There are incredible leaders throughout this organization.”
Mitchell Roland: (509) 661-5201
on Twitter @roland_mitchell