Perrydale’s ‘VIP’ retiring

PERRYDALE — On Friday, Perrydale Superintendent Robin Stoutt was “Queen for a Day.”    Stoutt is now just days away from the end of her 20-year career in Perrydale, and the school’s students wanted to show their appreciation during an assembly all about her.    They presented her with a crown, roses and a seat on the “VIP” couch. They showed a photo slide show and even had her compete against two teachers in her favorite “Ag Olympigs” event, the mini-tractor race.    “You’ve dedicated yourself to us and for this we thank you,” said Perrydale High School freshman leadership student Sanheshke Wakinyan.    At the end, Stoutt took the microphone, thanked her students and said: “What a great way to start a Friday school day.”    Not every day began like that in her 20 years, but Stoutt has felt privileged to come to work each and every one.    Those days started after Stoutt drove from Lake Oswego to Perrydale to host a technology-in-the-classroom seminar at the school. A death in the family forced her to cancel the class, but the Perrydale teachers had scheduled it at 6:30 a.m., so there was no way to call to let someone know she wouldn’t make it.    She drove all the way to Perrydale to tell the teachers she couldn’t conduct the class. Stoutt said the drive was beautiful.    “It felt like I was driving to heaven,” she said. “I went home and told my husband, ‘We need to sell our house and move out to the country — and I found the perfect school for our kids.’”    It was the perfect school for her, too.    The Stoutt family moved to a farm in Perrydale in 1994. A teacher with 15 years’ experience, Stoutt began working as a substitute that spring. The next fall, she began teaching kindergarten. She taught both her children, daughter Alex and son Theo, who both graduated from Perrydale.    Three years later, Stoutt was named elementary school principal. Seven years later she would be named superintendent.    In Stoutt’s 10 years leading the district, it has maintained a near perfect graduation rate and high academic success. The school also built a new gym and middle school facility, added a modern science lab, and improved the school’s track.    When tough economic times hit, the district managed to keep fine arts programs and physical education and teachers never took a furlough day.    Academic success led to students wanting to transfer to the district and, thanks to good relationships with surrounding districts, the school has more than 50 percent of its student population from out-of-district. Photo by Jolene Guzman Perrydale’s Robin Stoutt addresses students Friday during a surprise assembly thanking her for 20 years of service to the district as a teacher, principal and superintendent.    “Perrydale would look completely different if Perrydale didn’t have the interdistrict transfers because we wouldn’t have the students and the funding that travels with those students,” Stoutt said.    There were lessons learned, too. Stoutt said she lost a battle — over football field lights.    She wanted to buy math books with the money needed to purchase the lights. Stoutt said she dug her heels in — and was overruled.    “I’m really happy that I didn’t get my way on that because it really opened my eyes to that there is a balance,” she said.    Making the Friday night game experience possible drew the school community closer, she said.    “I have to laugh because I was not a supporter of those lights, but, you know, I don’t think I’ve missed a Perrydale football game since we put in those Friday night lights,” she said.    Longtime Perrydale teacher Linda Romey said Stoutt “has always been our champion” and will be missed.    “I think it’s her genuine positive presence in the school, just being out there, being with the kids and chatting with them and making sure they are having a good day and a good time,” she said.    Retirement for Stoutt doesn’t mean lazy days. She will continue to teach a school administrator licensing class at Portland State University, help plan her daughter’s upcoming wedding and start work on two children’s books she’s been meaning to write.    Stoutt said she’s completed most tasks needed to hand the district over to incoming superintendent Eric Milburn, so her closing days at Perrydale can be spent as much as possible with students.    “I’m hoping that the next few weeks I can just spend in classrooms … and going to end-of-the-year events and just enjoy every minute with kids,” she said. “I might even swing on a swing at recess or play a little tether ball.”    Say Goodbye    • The public is welcome to celebrate Robin Stoutt’s accomplishments at Perrydale School during her retirement celebration, scheduled Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the old gym at the school, 7445 Perrydale Road. Refreshments will be served. School staff, students, community members and former students are invited to bring their favorite “Robin story” to share. For more information: Dianna, 503-623-9179.    


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