Oregon’s 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year is Drake Shelton, IAL ’12, who works at Alliance High School in Portland Public Schools (PPS). He was chosen by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) and the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and will be acknowledged in June at the annual COSA conference in Seaside. He is automatically in the running for the national title and will travel to Washington, DC, later this year for the National Association of Secondary School Administrator (NASSA) celebration.
Shelton previously served as athletic director and vice principal of De La Salle North Catholic High School in North Portland, where he also coached a coed wrestling team. In 2014, he came to PPS as a vice principal of Alliance High School at Benson and coach of football at Grant High School. He saw the many challenges facing Alliance and began by designing a student tracking and intervention system to alert teachers and counselors when students needed extra support or parent contact. Using this system, he was able to increase student attendance by 8 percent the first year.
In his second year, Shelton realized that many of his students were first-generation Americans and students of color who struggled to complete courses. He learned that their families did not have higher education experiences and could not provide a vision of going to college to the next generation. Many Alliance students had daytime jobs and didn’t see the point of completing high school. Shelton took the initiative to build a bridge program that links students to community college classes. While they are finishing their high school diplomas, they are also doing career exploration, taking PCC classes, and meeting with college counselors about next steps.
“Drake is such a caring, charismatic, and thoughtful leader; he is a magnet for students, staff, and colleagues, who warm to his integrity and genuine interest in them,” said his former PSU adviser, Professor Amy Petti. “I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for recognition. Drake was a calm and steady standout in his IAL cohort. Peers sought him as a team member, and he always brought a positive proactive stance to any problem or challenge. Above all, Drake stands tall for equity and students whose voices are sometimes not heard.”
Alliance High School is an alternative high school in PPS that operates afternoons and evenings at Benson and serves 200 students in grades 10–12. Alliance has flexible hours and focuses on degree completion and career development. Alliance is open to any PPS student.
Since 2012, four GSE alumni have earned the title of Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year. In addition to Shelton, they are: Sean Burke, ’02 (2012); Michael Ralls, ’01, ’07, ’14 (2014); and Duane Larson, ’96, ’01, ’02 (2015).