OSBA adds former superintendent to leadership team
Monday, October 17, 2022
The entire Mitchell School Board interviewed Melissa Goff for her first teaching job, she said. Twenty-eight years later, she is in a position to work with all Oregon school boards.
OSBA has named Goff as its new deputy executive director, starting Monday, Oct. 17. She will replace Mary Paulson, who retired.
Goff sees one of her primary duties as helping school board members understand state rules and regulations and the ramifications of board policy decisions. She wants to help school boards avoid the landmines that can pull attention and resources away from the students.
“As an educator, my role has always been to stand up for all children and their families,” she said.
Goff said she is excited to work for OSBA because it offers a broader way to affect children’s education.
“Education is just part of who I am for my whole life,” she said. “I feel fortunate to be able to have this position in a state I was born and raised in.”
Goff grew up in the Bend area and spent a lot of time around Roseburg with her grandfather’s logging business. From tiny Mitchell northeast of Prineville, Goff went on to work for Beaverton, Bend-La Pine, Sherwood and Portland Public Schools, where she was an assistant superintendent. She became superintendent of the Philomath School District in 2015 and the superintendent of Greater Albany Public Schools in 2019.
“We are excited to bring on an experienced educator who has worked in our rural schools and also our largest schools,” said Jim Green, OSBA executive director.
Goff’s relationships with other superintendents coupled with her detailed understanding of running schools is a resource for OSBA members, Green said.
OSBA Board President Scott Rogers, who was not involved in the hiring process, said he is pleased OSBA’s newest hire understands Oregon’s smaller communities. Rogers is board chair for the small-town Athena-Weston School District northeast of Pendleton.
Goff said Bend was a much smaller community when she was growing up and they often felt their voices weren’t heard in the power centers of Salem and Portland. Goff said she wants to make sure OSBA hears all Oregon’s school board voices, and she will seek out viewpoints that aren’t being commonly represented.
Current Philomath School Board Chair Rick Wells was on the board when Goff was superintendent and speaks highly of her.
“You can agree to disagree on things and still have a really good relationship,” he said. “We had the same goal in mind, which was educating kids in the best way we could and doing what is best for the kids.”
For the past year, Goff has been doing contract work as a superintendent support coach for the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators. Hiring the superintendent is a school board’s most important responsibility, and Goff wants to help school board members make that relationship work.
“School districts function best when school boards and superintendents are working together with trust,” she said.
Goff also understands the perils in that relationship. In 2021, three newly elected members of the five-member Albany school board voted to dismiss Goff without cause two weeks after they were sworn in. Goff said she had a strong collaborative relationship with the previous board but never got a chance to know the new school board.
GAPS board member Michael Thomson was the lone vote to retain Goff. He praised her focus on keeping decision-making based on students’ needs.
“She really thinks in terms of the best system to help all kids succeed academically,” he said.
Goff said she recognizes the extraordinary political pressures school board members face these days, and she wants OSBA to be a resource to help boards navigate diverse community perspectives.
“My focus is what are the best decisions we can make for students and how can we work together to make those decisions come to fruition,” she said.