PSU Alumna named Oregon Superintendent of the Year

Maryalice RussellPSU graduate, Maryalice Russell, is the 2013 Oregon Superintendent of the Year, as announced by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). Each state winner qualifies for the national competition and Dr.  Russell was one of the top four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. The award is co-sponsored by Aramark Education, Valic, and the School Superintendents Association (AASA), and “honors the leadership and exceptional contributions to education of public school superintendents.” Dr. Russell and the other three finalists travelled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 8, 2013, where they participated in a panel discussion at the National Press Club.

Dr. Russell has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching, and an MEd in educational administration from Portland State University. Later she earned her doctorate from Oregon State University and superintendent accreditation from Lewis and Clark. 

Dr. Russell grew up in East Portland and attended school in the Centennial School District. She worked her way through college teaching and working in youth programs in a variety of settings, including David Douglas and Reynolds School Districts. Her first teaching job as a licensed educator was in the Redland School District, where she later began her administrative career. Dr. Russell has been an assistant principal, elementary and middle school principal, Director of 21st Century Schools and assistant superintendent. She has worked at McMinnville School District as superintendent since 2002. Under her leadership, McMinnville School District has produced impressive reading and math scores despite ranking 29th highest in poverty and seventh highest in limited English proficiency. Dr. Russell’s 6,500 students have extra opportunities for science and math through unique programs she has initiated: an Engineering and Aerospace Science Academy for 9-12th graders, a STEM summer camp for girls, and STEM-intensive teaching and learning at all grade levels. There is a FIRST LEGO Robotics team in each elementary school and all ninth graders attend a STEM-intensive project-based algebra class.

The district addresses kindergarten readiness with a program called JumpStart that serves parents of preschool children and is offered in both English and Spanish.

In 2012, the district acquired a $20 million dollar grant from USDE, Investing in Effective Educators (IEE) Project, to implement a performance-based compensation system and professional development for teachers and principals.

McMinnville is the only school district in Oregon with three schools identified by the Oregon Department of Education as Model Schools.

Dr. Russell is a member of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and sits on the board of directors for the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which partners with the district in providing classes in engineering and aerospace. She is a board member of the McMinnville Chamber and past president of the McMinnville Noon Rotary Club.

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