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Beaverton Superintendent Don GrottingDon Grotting is the superintendent of the Beaverton School District. For more than 20 years, he has led school districts in rural and urban communities across Oregon. Grotting has received several awards and accolades for his work and leadership, including 2014 Oregon Superintendent of the Year from the American Association of School Administrators. He also sits on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Governor’s Council on Education and Oregon’s State Board of Education.

Grotting hails from the town of Coquille in southwestern Oregon where he a grew up in what he describes as extreme poverty. After three years in the military and more than a decade working in a sawmill in his hometown, Grotting enrolled in college in his mid-30s. Soon after, he took a job teaching elementary school in Powers, Oregon. Two years later he was invited to apply for the superintendent’s job for the small district. Since then, Grotting has served as superintendent in Nyssa and David Douglas school districts, experiences that have helped him focus on the needs of children before they enter the K-12 system.

Grotting was a key figure in the development of the Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles Elementary in Southeast Portland. Started in collaboration with Children’s Institute during Grotting’s first year as David Douglas School District superintendent in 2010, Early Works is a model for early learning and healthy development for children birth to five in an elementary school setting. At Earl Boyles, early learning programs, infant and toddler groups, parent engagement activities, and preschool support young children’s love of learning and prepares them for success when they enter kindergarten. After securing a voter-approved construction bond in 2012, Grotting prioritized construction of the Early Learning Wing and Neighborhood Center at Earl Boyles in 2014.

In this interview, Grotting reflects on his career, the importance of early learning, his goals for the Beaverton School District, and more.

24677 0309455375 450 cropIn our 20th podcast, we sat down with Ruby Takanishi, co-editor of the NASEM report Promising Futures: Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning EnglishMaria Adams, language development specialist for the David Douglas School District; and Perla Rodriguez, principal of Echo Shaw Elementary School to discuss the needs of English learners and dual language learners in our schools, communities, and early learning systems. We learn more about the recommendations to promote the educational success of young English learners included in Promising Futures, and take a look at two Oregon districts leading the way on language development for their students.

Miriam CalderonMiriam Calderon is the early learning system director of the Early Learning Division in the Oregon Department of Education. Before returning to Oregon in 2017 to lead the division, she helped build a birth-to-three system and universal preschool for the District of Columbia. She was also a senior fellow with the BUILD Initiative leading work pertaining to dual language learners and universal preschool, and served as a political appointee in the Obama administration.

Ron HerndonWe invite you to spend an hour listening to our interview with Ron Herndon, a long-time community leader and activist in Portland and nationally. He has been the director of the Portland-based Albina Head Start since 1975, and his background includes more than four decades of advocacy efforts on behalf of low-income families and young children, and Portland’s black community.

Having served as chairman of the board for the National Head Start Association for 20 years, from 1993 to 2013, Herndon offers a unique historical perspective on early childhood in Portland and nationally. Today, his Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve more than 1,000 children in 33 classrooms at 25 locations in North, Northeast, and Southeast Portland. And he has recently pioneered a Mandarin language program, the first of its kind for a Head Start program in the US.

In this interview, we discuss the history of Albina Head Start, racial discrimination and segregation in Portland, and the history of state and federal policy that systematically isolated and suppressed Portland’s African-American community — actions that still have lasting impact today. Herndon also provides his commentary on the history of education in the country, what is lacking for low-income children, the importance of teacher training and family empowerment, and ideas for changing the lives of children with a commitment to their well-being and success.

Please tune in, share, and enjoy.

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