DALLAS -- "I am 100 percent committed to Dallas School District," said Christy Perry, the new Dallas School District superintendent.
"I am more committed to Dallas Schools than I am to being Superintendent," she added.
"The strength of the Dallas district lies with the people. The educators have a larger load than ever. We have strong teachers in this district. I must stay connected with the staff and with [activities in] the buildings. My greatest fear is a loss of that connection."
Perry brings a strong background in education and administration to the job she assumes next July. Until then, she continues in the dual role of Whitworth Elementary principal and district director of human resources.
She arrived in the Dallas district in 1998 to serve as principal at Lyle and Pedee schools. Superintendent Dave Novotney moved her to a full-time position as human resources director in 2002.
Faced with the need to reduce staff, Novotney put her back in the principal's chair with the Whitworth job in 2003.
Before joining the Dallas staff, Perry served as an adjunct elementary education professor at Western Oregon University, district TAG (Talented & Gifted Student Programs) at Salem-Keizer District, a fifth-grade teacher at Keizer Elementary and a fifth-sixth grade teacher at Perrydale in 1988.
The latter was her first teaching position following graduation from Western Oregon University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.
"It's always been my goal to be an educator. From kindergarten on it's never been a question." To that end, she has added a Master of Arts degree in elementary education from Western and an administrator's license from Portland State University.
In looking at her role, Perry sees the greatest challenge as one of "financial stability."
To deal with the need for more revenue, she said, "we have to think differently. Our student population has changed. We're finding more students with greater needs in an era of declining revenues.
"We need to remain active in the legislative arena, actually pro-active, in fighting for adequate funding. The community must be educated as to where we are [financially]. If we want Dallas to remain a vital community, we have to have a good school system.
"The school board is good. They have a variety of strengths represented. My job is to help with open and honest communication with the Board and everyone."
As the district HR person, she says, "it has strengthened my position as an administrator. We were able to work cooperatively with all the staff."
She commented on several topics relating to the district:
"We have to protect our enrollment as much as we can. We need to further develop partnerships and different ways to serve all students."
"We're all educators and have to be partners. As charters struggle, we have to partner with them."
TESTING (STATE AND FEDERALLY REQUIRED):
"Because it's here we have to look at the data and do what's best for the students."
KEEPING THE DISTRICT OPERATING:
"We must know the pieces and understand how to manage them. A superintendent has to have the whole picture. You need to know the players and the people."
"I intend to be involved in service organizations. I live and work in the community with my family. I'm not a passive community member. The public needs to know how good our schools are."
On the personal side, Perry is a working mother with two children in Dallas schools. Son, Kyle, 11, is a sixth-grader at LaCreole Middle School. Daughter Brooke, 9, is a fourth-grader at Lyle Elementary.
Christy Grassl married Dale Perry in 1989. She worked her way through college waiting tables at Farrol's Restaurant in Rickreall and a seafood restaurant at Winchester Bay.
Now 39, the incoming superintendent was born in and grew up in Reedsport.
Her mother, Sue Harms, lives in Albany. Her father, George Grassl, died in the early 1990s. She has sisters, Tammy Doughty in Shreveport, Louisiana and Debbie Lewis in Roseburg. Her brother, Bill, lives in Aurora.
While devoting most of her waking hours to education of her children as well as others, she stays fit by running and enjoys reading fiction.