The Oregon Small Schools Association is proud to announce Dr. Donald Kordosky as its 2015 Administrator of the Year. Kordosky received his award at the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) Seaside Conference on the morning of Friday, June 19, 2015.
Kordosky is superintendent of the Oakridge School District and said he is humbled by being named the OSSA Administrator of the Year and knows there are many other deserving candidates. “One of the crucial things about working in a small school district is you have to put in the time outside instructional hours—during those hours, administrators need to be with teachers and kids. Our excellent teaching staff and amazing office staff all put in the hours to make Oakridge the success it is,” Kordosky said.
Kordosky has been the superintendent of the Oakridge School District since 2006, but he has been with the district since 2003, serving in several roles. Since he began his career, he has been a special education director, music teacher, director of facilities and maintenance, district testing coordinator, athletic director and AP coordinator and worked in the Lincoln County School District at Newport and Waldport schools.
The Oakridge School District has 550 students and is located in an economically depressed area, with about 87 percent of students meeting free and reduced lunch criteria. Student enrollment in the district has dropped 5 percent each year since 1996, with a decrease of 12 percent in 2009-2010, but during his tenure, Kordosky has managed to improve education for students despite decreased funds. He minimized teacher reductions by eliminating administrative positions and having administrators assume other duties, while taking pay cuts. In addition to being superintendent, Kordosky is also the special education director and the facilities and maintenance director.
“Don has fiscally managed a district that has experienced perennial funding decreases that most other administrators cannot imagine while increasing opportunities for children,” said Aaron Brown, Administrator/Principal for the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District and a colleague of Kordosky’s.
Brown commented that Kordosky has a remarkable ability to relate to students as individuals with unique potential and needs. One of Kordosky’s main accomplishments has been adopting a proficiency-based educational model in 2009 for the Oakridge School District, which was a staff-driven initiative. The district realized the benefits of the model several years before Oregon lawmakers did. Kordosky and his administration developed a consortium of local agencies (University of Oregon, Western Oregon University, Lowell School District, Elmira School District, Three Rivers School District and Lane ESD) to write and submit a Western Oregon Consortium Grant Race to the Top grant to implement agencies as a proficiency education model. Although named a finalist for the grant, the district was not awarded one, but the cooperative spirit the process engendered continued.
Kordosky established a goal of 1:1 technology for Oakridge students and the district has used grants, Title 1 funds and general funds to purchase iPads for all 9th and 10th graders, Chromebooks for all 4th graders and a Surface tablet mobile lab, plus four computer labs. These efforts provide students with technology that many of their families cannot afford. Kordosky also developed a Talented and Gifted (TAG) program in 2009 that was adopted by the state as the standard model for all Oregon districts and opened an empty building in the district as an alternative education option, which in collaboration with Lowell and Pleasant Hill districts, serves at-risk students.
In a letter nominating Kordosky for administrator of the year, the junior/senior high staff from Oakridge described Kordosky as a dedicated leader who has created an environment for academic success, striving to serve the needs of students at both ends of the academic spectrum. Plus, Kordosky is adept at making students feel welcome, they said. “He knows every one of our 230 students by name, and could probably tell you something about each and every one of them,” the staff wrote.
Kordosky earned his bachelor’s of science degree from Culver-Stockton College (Canton, Missouri), his master’s degree in education from Oregon State University and his doctorate of education from Walden University (Minneapolis, Minnesota). He currently holds an Oregon Distinguished Administrator License.