Having earned his doctorate in education from George Fox University, Derek Brown was already familiar with Newberg, but says that played a relatively minor role in drawing him to work in the Newberg School District.
More important to the new director of data and assessment, who started in the role June 1, was the general direction the district has taken under Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza and her leadership team.
"The real attraction to it was that I think it's a great leadership team, a fantastic community," Brown said. "I'm just excited to be a part of what we're doing here."
Specifically, Brown said he was intrigued by how LeBlanc-Espraza talked about community leadership and how district administrators approach improving the classroom experience for students by helping principals and teachers develop skills and utilize tools that will allow them to lead and implement that improvement themselves.
"There are some districts that take a more hierarchical approach where the district office is going to look at the data, analyze and then tell you what we see and what you ought to do next," Brown said. "I really appreciate that we view this from a very collaborative and collective responsibility standpoint."
On the flip side, LeBlanc-Esparza said she was impressed by the wide variety of skill and professional experience that Brown brings to the position, which was vacated after the passing of respected district veteran and prominent community member Don Staples in March.
After receiving his bachelor's degree in music and master's degree in teaching from Pacific University, Brown taught in central Oregon and Scappoose before leaving the state to become a commissioned officer in the Air Force. Brown served as a logistics readiness officer at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland before returning to Oregon as a researcher at the Educational Policy Improvement Center in Eugene.
Brown later spent six years at the Oregon Department of Education, most recently as assistant superintendent of assessment and accountability, before a short stint at Education Northwest, where he led efforts in data and research for school districts through its Regional Education Laboratories program.
"What I wanted was a professional opportunity where I could come in and apply my set of experiences and expertise that are generally focused around assessment and accountability," Brown said, "but also to come in and learn and participate in community leadership more broadly."