GSE advisory board member Matt Utterback is the 2017 National Superintendent of the Year. He was honored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) at a March 2 celebration in New Orleans. Utterback is the North Clackamas School District superintendent and has served on the GSE Advisory Council for four years.
“Matt has focused district attention on equity as the foundation for improving student success in North Clackamas School District, and he and his colleagues have experienced remarkable success,” said Dean Randy Hitz. “We count it a privilege to have North Clackamas as one of our most important district partners and to have Matt on our advisory council.”
No one could be prouder of Utterback than his own school board, who closely witnessed the changes in their district since promoting him to superintendent in 2012. In a statement to the community, Board Chair Rein Vaga said, “Matt Utterback is a brilliant and exceedingly capable superintendent who has the intellectual capacity in understanding and comprehending everything from the smallest of details, to a leadership ability of broad wisdom and vision, which can be revealed in part by his implementation of a long-range strategic initiative based upon equity.”
Utterback was selected for the national honor in part for his successful progress in raising the graduation rate in North Clackamas from 69 percent to 83 percent (2016). Most noteworthy though, is the stunning improvement in graduation rates for students of color, students from low-income families, and special education students.
Utterback attributes much of this success to the district’s efforts on improving attendance and on working to understand what factors impede students from coming to school. “What we know right now is that we have the highest attendance rates of any of the largest districts in the state,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with our work on equity. When you concentrate on the needs of each student in the school, we find that students are not only coming to school, they are succeeding at school.”
North Clackamas is the fifth-largest school district in Oregon, with 44 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch.