Salem-Keizer superintendent named finalist for National Superintendent of the Year
Friday, December 18, 2020
Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry has been named one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year.
Perry credits the students, especially from communities of color.
“They have made me the leader I am,” she said. “I think I learn more than I ever teach them.”
Perry is the 2021 Oregon Superintendent of the Year, which automatically placed her in the running for the American Association of School Administrators award.
The application included a video about her work at Salem-Keizer. Perry said the application process really helped her see her impact. She said a leader can’t do it alone and the honor really comes from seeing the support she has received.
“It says so much about how our district shows up every day for our kids,” she said. “If our district wasn’t following me, we wouldn’t accomplish what we are accomplishing.”
Perry has been superintendent at Salem-Keizer since 2014. It is the second-largest district in Oregon. A native Oregonian, she has been in education for more than 30 years, including as the Dallas School District superintendent.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green was a member of the school board that hired her.
“She’s a leading educator in the state of Oregon and now recognized nationally for all the work she’s done,” Green said.
Green praised her ability to look at a situation, analyze it and make the right call. Green noted that the district has faced a lot of challenges recently, including with the pandemic and calls for changes to school discipline.
“She’s been a steady hand at the helm, moving the district forward,” Green said.
Perry’s dedication to equity has been especially pertinent during the national awakening to racial injustice.
“For our students of color, we need to continue to show up as better educators,” she said. “I’ve called on my district and my community to do that with me.”
Perry said it was important to listen to communities of color and address inequitable systems.
In June, Perry called out her school board, challenging them to consider the impacts of their policies on students of color and other groups that have been historically underserved.
Former Eugene School District Superintendent Gustavo Balderas was the 2020 AASA National Superintendent of the Year.
Starting in 1988, no state has had the national superintendent of the year in back-to-back years, but Oregon has been well-represented. Perry is the third Oregon superintendent in the past five years to be a finalist for the national award.
Krista Parent, formerly of South Lane, won the national award in 2007, and Matt Utterback of North Clackamas won in 2017.
Green said Oregon’s track record shows the state has a high-quality pool of school leaders.
“It shows the nation that Oregon is leading in a lot of ways, and we have great leadership who care deeply about our kids,” Green said.
Perry said the national recognition is a testament to the way Oregon school leaders work together and with OSBA, the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators, and the Oregon Department of Education.
“When we are all pushing in the same direction, we can do great things for kids,” she said.