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Katrise Perera cited for improvements for Latinx students, starting Spanish immersion programs

PMG FILE PHOTO - Katrise Perera, superintendent of Gresham-Barlow School District, greets students on the first day of school last year,  prior to the pandemic school closures.

Gresham-Barlow School District Superintendent Katirse Perera was honored by the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators.

Perera received the Tom Ruhl Ally Award, which is presented to an educator who has exhibited leadership in equity and cultural competence. The award aims to recognize educational leaders who have implemented strategies and activities aligned with the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators mission, purpose, and goals in their district or institution, the group said in an announcement of the honor.

"I am humbled by this recognition and accept the award on behalf of the amazing work that our teachers and leaders have implemented to help ensure that each GBSD student is prepared to THRIVE in a global community," Perera said in a statement after receiving the award from the group Friday, Feb. 5.

"It is evident in Superintendent Perera's work the ways in which she serves as a role model for communities of color including the Latinx community in the state of Oregon, actively engages and demonstrates advocacy on critical Latinx issues, models cultural competency, and focuses on educational equity for the students and communities she serves," OALA President Sarita Amaya said in a statement.

The group pointed out that the district, under Perera's leadership, has taken multiple steps that "relate to equity and cultural competence."

Gresham-Barlow established a Spanish/English dual language immersion program at two elementary schools starting in the fall of 2019, beginning with the kindergarten class and expanding by an additional grade each year.

The four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students increased 6.3 percentage points for the class of 2020 from the prior year and the class before that had a 4.2 percentage point gain.

The group also credited Perera with establishing career pathways education "with attention to equitable access and support for historically marginalized students" and teacher training focused on "culturally responsive instruction."

Calling Perera "a true equity leader," Mayra Gómez, Gresham-Barlow School Board vice chair, said Perera "is an advocate for all marginalized communities and believes in empowering our students through education."

Gomez nominated Perera for the honor and noted, "We are very fortunate to have a leader like her in Gresham."

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