Central district hires new school superintendent

MONMOUTH-INDEPENDENCE -- The principal of a Beaverton-area elementary school has been tapped as Central School District's new superintendent.

Joseph Hunter, an educator for the past 19 years and principal of Sexton Elementary School since 2001, signed a contract with district officials last Thursday.

Hunter will succeed current superintedent Forrest Bell, who retires at the end of the school year. Hunters's salary will be $105,000. His first day on the job is July 1.

"I think the district has been positioned in the last few years under Forrest to address some of the things I have strengths in, namely, curiculum and instruction," Hunter said. "I'm excited about helping to meet the challenges there."

Dan Cannon, Central school board chairman, said it was the variety of Hunter's work experience and rapport with the community that earned him the job.

"He went out into the cities and talked with people, and that was impressive to us," Cannon said. "He's a good fit."

Hunter was born and raised in Bennettsville, S.C., and moved to Oregon during his senior year of high school.

His teachers while growing up in the South inspired his career in education, he said.

"I'm a Native American and was raised in poverty," said Hunter, a member of the Lumbee Tribe. "It was a teacher who changed my life ... so I dedicated my life to helping kids."

Hunter earned his master's degrees in secondary education at what is now Southern Oregon University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Portland State University.

Hunter spent the first seven years of his teaching career at Crater High School in Central Point. From there, he moved on to several different administrative positions, from curriculum and instruction coordinator for Chenowith Schools in The Dalles to assistant principal of Bremerton Middle School in Washington.

Hunter helped develop the core curriculum for an administrator course at the University of Phoenix, and teaches courses at Portland State University and the University of Portland.

Other acheivements include his development of a school-wide "Tribes" program at Sexton Elementary School, in which children are organized into long-term peer groups for learning and interpersonal support, and his recognition as former Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1998 for literacy instruction at Chenowith Elementary.

Hunter said he is looking forward to moving from a district with almost 35,000 students to a more close-knit environment.

"To do something positive in a huge district seems like it takes forever," he said. "In a smaller district, you can get your arms around it and move things along more quickly."

Hunter and his wife, Krista, have three children: Ryan, 11, Kevin, 9, and Rachael, 7. His hobbies include golfing, fishing, cooking and playing the guitar.


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