When the school year started in September 2019, Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon was at Fir Grove Elementary School literally rolling out the red carpet for students to get them excited about school.

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Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon, right, and Michelle Knee, director of teaching and learning for the district, secure butcher paper representing red carpet in front of Fir Grove Elementary School in September 2019. The two were at Fir Grove to help welcome students on the first day of school in the Roseburg school district.

By the end of the school year, students and teachers were working from home amid a global pandemic. But Cordon’s determination to get students and staff excited about school never wavered.

“It’s been a fantastic year,” Cordon said. “What a year to get to know the community and the staff.”

Cordon was hired in April 2019 and officially started in his position as superintendent of Douglas County’s largest school district in July 2019.

“I think Superintendent Cordon has been an incredible asset to our district this year from the minute he started,” interim school board chair Steve Patterson said. “In addition to his commitment to our students, his connections and understanding of education at the state level has been invaluable. He’s done an excellent job facing the many unforeseen challenges of this school year and he’s done it with optimism and adaptability.”

Challenges for Roseburg Public Schools weren’t limited to the coronavirus and the following school closures. The other big thing was a bond levy on the ballot in May which failed to pass.

Cordon said he keeps a list on his desk with all the things that happened during his first year at the helm of the district.

On that list are also positive things, such as his daughter graduating from Roseburg High School, the start of Safety Partnership with local organizations and the school district delivering more than 250,000 meals to students during the closure.

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Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon speaks at the Rose Alternative School graduation ceremony this past June.

“He’s done an amazing job considering all the ups and downs the year he’s had,” Director of Teaching and Learning Michelle Knee said.

She said he was approachable and collaborative and has been a calming force amid all the changes.

Cordon has said a few times that “hope is a bad strategy” for an organization, meaning he’d prefer to prepare for any scenario rather than hoping things will fall into place.

This year the school district finished working on its strategic plan, and Cordon said every decision made should point back to its plan.

“We say we believe in it, now we need to show how we support it,” he said.

The focus for this year will be making sure there’s a clearer path for students to high school and then graduation. This will include making sure all elementary schools and middle schools have the same standards and that students know their goals.

Cordon said the district will start to make more data-informed decisions.

“For every new program and every new hire, there will be metrics in place so we can see if things are working,” Cordon said. And for the things that aren’t working, he’s not afraid to make those changes.

The focus stays on the students and the staff, and making sure they want to keep coming back to school.

While schools prepare for the next school year and the changes it will bring, the overwhelming response from students, parents and staff was a desire to go back to school.

Education reporter Sanne Godfrey can be reached by email at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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