TRI CITY — Kate McLaughlin received a warm welcome by South Umpqua School District staff.

The new interim superintendent started in July and had nothing but positive things to say about the way she was received.

“It has been warm, welcoming, open and supportive,” McLaughlin said. “I couldn’t say enough good things about this team.”

McLaughlin’s previous position was as the federal programs director for the Reynolds School District, which serves more than 10,000 students in Fairview, Wood Village, Troutdale, and parts of Portland and Gresham. Being at the helm of a district that spans three different towns — Tri City, Myrtle Creek and Canyonville — was within her comfort zone because of that experience.

As interim superintendent, she said she will continue the good work already being done by the district while preparing it for a permanent superintendent.

“My goal has always been to find a community where I can be an active participant,” McLaughlin said. “I’d love for this to be that community.”

During her short time in the area, she has attended chamber meetings and community events. She plans to continue being at those events as well as events at the various schools within the district.

“I’m a big believer that you lead by example,” McLaughlin said. “It’s important to be visible and accessible. You have to be able to walk the walk.”

The district has several new administrators, including Ryan Savage as the new vice principal/athletic director at South Umpqua High School. Robert Fowler will be the new principal at Tri City Elementary, and Ariel Mainz was hired as the new principal at Myrtle Creek Elementary.

Administrators met during the summer and have planned professional development for teachers to continue academic growth at all levels throughout the district.

The school board has asked her to continue to grow student achievement.

“We’ve started on that work already,” she said.

When asked if there were any areas where the district was in need of improvement, she said students don’t have a lot of places to go after school ends beyond sports. She added that she’s hoping to learn more about this, and any other issues affecting the district, once school starts and she has more opportunities to talk with students, staff and community members.

“Anytime a district is in transition you listen and learn and try to understand the needs,” McLaughlin said.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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