Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Long-time Board members retire

Washougal School District board members Dr. Orlan Gessford and Tom Huffman have announced their retirement effective January 31, 2011. Dr. Gessford was appointed to the Board in 1984, and elected to his position in 1985. Tom Huffman, a graduate of Washougal High School, was elected to the Board in 1991. Both have grown children who are graduates of Washougal High.

Superintendent Teresa Baldwin says she has appreciated Dr. Orlan Gessford’s leadership for finance on the board, as well as his advocacy for disadvantaged children, both of which are important functions on the board of directors. She talks about Tom Huffman’s influence on teaching and learning, both as an advocate of academic rigor and advanced placement courses, as well as his vision for a strong career and technical education curriculum aligned with the Clark County Skills Center program.

Bob Donaldson and Phil Rohn, past superintendent and associate superintendent, felt that the policy-level thinking led by Tom Huffman and Orlan Gessford, specifically the concept of a culminating student performance judged against a standard of excellence, was ground-breaking at the time and well ahead of the state requirement for graduation. They also noted the tremendous leadership shown by these two board members when, as a result of a voter-approved school bond in 1999, the district's facilities were modernized. Donaldson said, "The knowledge that Tom and Orlan had of construction management, county codes and labor laws proved to be extremely helpful during that time of district facility reconstruction."

Former superintendent Brent Garrett also recalled that both of these board members were strong proponents of the first “Senior Project” requirement for graduation at Washougal High School. Mr. Garrett noted that there are school directors who “sit” on boards and those who “serve,” and he remembers both Dr. Gessford and Mr. Huffman as directors who have served and have made significant contributions to the students and community. Mr. Garrett said, “Tom and Orlan will be replaced, but our memory of what they have accomplished will remain a beacon for those filling their shoes. They have truly served!”

Teresa Baldwin said, “Tom and Orlan have been at the helm with a calm, steady hand, helping to chart the course of this district for many years. Their knowledgeable, experienced commitment is exceptional. Individually and together, they are leaving a legacy of leadership in Washougal School District.” Dr. Orlan Gessford and Tom Huffman will be honored as recipients of the 2011 Community Leadership Award at a reception in May next year, presented by the Washington Association of School Administrators.

Blaine Peterson, current president of the Washougal Board of Directors, announced that the board will be seeking applicants to fill these two vacancies. Information will be posted on the district website in December.