Unflappable. That’s how you could describe both of these retiring educators. This spring marks the retirement of two colleagues in the Graduate School of Education who together represent nearly 100 years of high-quality work in education for Oregon. Linda Jessell, director of the PSU Center for Student Success, and Jim Carlile, assistant superintendent of the Oregon Department of Education and the original director of the PSU Center for Student Success, have aided many schools, districts, educators, and students with their trusted advice.
“We are very fortunate to have had these two exceptional educators as part of the GSE,” said Dean Randy Hitz. “Linda and Jim are the kinds of leaders who make a real difference for Oregon’s students. We are ever grateful for their insight, persistence, and dedication.”
Linda K. Jessell
A “consummate teacher” is how friends and colleagues describe Linda Jessell, who is retiring after more than four decades in education.
Jessell, director of the PSU Center for Student Success (CSS), has an extensive background in public education in Oregon, including many years of work in schools and districts and at the university level. She has been director of the PSU Center for Student Success since 2008 and served as a cohort leader in the PSU Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). The CSS, a consulting center in the GSE is in high demand to oversee special projects and provide professional analysis of school programs
Jessell’s career began in 1972 as a language arts teacher at Mt. View Intermediate School in Beaverton. In 1979, she became a staff development specialist at Beaverton High School and six years later assistant principal at Sunset High School. She moved to Gresham High School as principal in 1992, where, among other improvements, she instituted a senior project as a graduation requirement in all senior English classes. Gresham High School was named America’s Best High School by Redbook magazine for the 1995–96 school year.
Recognized for her work in program improvement and building community, she was promoted in 1998 to director of secondary education for Gresham-Barlow School District. In that capacity, she took on instructional issues around middle school students and nontraditional school programs and opened an evening and online high school credit-recovery program. Her final position at Gresham-Barlow was director of curriculum from 2003 to 2005.
Ready for a new challenge, she became a cohort leader in the GTEP. In 2008, she was hired as the assistant director of the CSS and became director after Jim Carlile. At the CSS, she met Oregon districts’ growing demand for charter school and grant evaluation services, consulting, professional development, and research. She doubled the number of contracts, hired additional staff, and built solid partnerships with education stakeholders, such as All Hands Raised, Self-Enhancement Inc., and the Oregon Community Foundation.
“You know when you encounter a consummate teacher, that is, a person whose whole focus is on learning and discovering how to help schools become as effective as possible for every student,” said colleague Pat Burk, a professor in the Educational Administration program. “It is how they think. How they talk. The lens through which they view the world. That is Linda Jessell. She has never wavered in her focus on that core issue, as a classroom teacher, a highly successful building administrator, a district leader, and as a director of the Center for Student Success at PSU.”
In 2005, the Business Education Compact recognized Jessell’s work with its annual Education Achievement Award.
Jessell and her husband, who have permanently moved to the Oregon coast, anticipate a relaxing retirement that includes travel and skiing.
James D. Carlile
Jim Carlile completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oregon and began his career in Springfield in 1959 as an English teacher. In 1967, he moved to Beaverton School District to teach until 1973, when he became principal at Cedar Park Intermediate School. He moved to Tigard High School for three years and then returned to Beaverton School District as Sunset High School’s principal in 1979. In 1985, he was promoted to Beaverton district offices as director of school improvement. In 1989, he moved to Gresham-Barlow School District to become assistant superintendent, and in 1994, he was named Gresham-Barlow superintendent. During that time, he also taught classes in school administration for PSU and was named Distinguished Administrator-in-Residence from 1987 to 1988.
By this time, Carlile’s expertise and imperturbable personality were in high demand when districts faced crisis. In recent years, he was called to serve in many interim administrator positions in districts throughout the state.
In 2004, Carlile was named the first director of the newly- formed PSU Center for Student Success. The foundation of that work continues today as the center celebrates twelve years of serving Oregon districts.
Carlile has provided professional development to many educators who are now Oregon school administrators. One of them, Oregon’s Deputy School Superintendent Rob Saxton, hired Carlile on several occasions to serve in school district positions that required a calm demeanor and skilled expertise. When Saxton needed to fill a position at the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) quickly, Carlile got the call and today serves as assistant superintendent of the ODE Office of Instruction, Standards, Assessment, and Accountability.
In 2014, the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) selected Carlile for its Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, a well-deserved honor.
Over fifty-six years, Carlile has touched the lives of many thousands of students who continue to remember his compassion and insight.