SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / September 2007 / Kathy McCollum
New Faces in School Improvement
Kathy McCollum - Director of SOESD School Improvement
Kathy McCollum is the new interim Director of School Improvement at SOESD. She retired two years ago as the Medford Superintendent, although she has been involved in several educational projects and filled in as an elementary principal for four months last year.
What interested you in the possibility of working at SOESD this year?
I have held almost all positions in Medford Schools, but working at the ESD is a very different level and experience. I have always been an advocate for regional services, and I’m interested in learning how a regional service center interfaces with districts. One of my primary goals is to help the SOESD gain greater exposure throughout our public school districts in, not only Jackson, but Josephine and Klamath Counties, as well.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Canby, Oregon. My grandfather started the family meat/grocery business 80 years ago. My brother still runs the family business, which has since expanded into Cutsforth’s Thriftway.
After Canby High School, then what?
I attended Lewis and Clark College, where I was a German major with a secondary education focus. I spent a semester abroad studying German at Tubingen University. Following college I spent some time with Vista, the domestic branch of the Peace Corps, working on poverty issues on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
How did you end up in Southern Oregon?
My husband Jeff is from Ashland. After returning from VISTA, I earned my elementary education credential at SOU. We then moved to Salem, where Jeff enrolled in Willamette University Law School and I taught for three years in the Canby School District. We moved back to Southern Oregon in l977. I got a teaching position in Medford at Lone Pine.
What positions did you hold in Medford?
I started at Lone Pine and then over the years I taught at Kennedy, Griffin Creek and Wilson elementary schools. I took a one year sabbatical to teach in the SOU Education Department, specifically working with student teachers. Upon returning to the Medford School District, I was asked to start a professional development program, so I transitioned to the District Office. After several years working in that capacity, I filled in as the principal at Washington Elementary and then became a principal at Howard Elementary for five years. From there I moved back to the Central Office and served as the Curriculum/Instruction and English Language Learner Director and then the Director of Elementary Education for 549C. I completed my Medford career as the interim Superintendent of the Medford School District.
What interested you in becoming an educator?
I loved all my school experiences and had many teachers who were incredibly positive influences on me. I wanted to give back and be that important adult in students’ lives that teachers had been for me.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to travel. I like to go to out-of-the-way places and experience new adventures. My husband is a certified sailboat captain so we have had many sailing adventures. I am also a baseball fan. My family likes going to Arizona for Spring Training. The Giants are my favorite team. And I like to spend time with my immediate and extended family.
Tell us about your family?
My husband and I have two children Ashley, 25, and Jonathan, 23. Ashley is getting her MBA at Seattle University and working for an online investment real estate company. Jonathan just finished an internship with Senator Gordon Smith in Washington DC and is looking for a permanent position on Capitol Hill. My husband, Jeff, has transitioned from law to real estate development.
What do you find most satisfying as an educator?
At this point in my career I love seeing younger educators whom I have worked with and mentored become educational leaders. Rea Snyder and Teena Staller, who currently work at SOESD, are prime examples of this. It is very rewarding to see their knowledge and skills and work with them again. I must say, I am so impressed with all of the SOESD employees in the School Improvement arena.
Kathy, it is truly exciting to have your expertise and leadership at the ESD. The School Improvement Team and staff at our component districts are thrilled to be able to work with you again.