Jennifer Schiele brings 'deep-rooted belief in children' to new role
Lake Oswego School District will start the 2021-22 school year with a new superintendent at the helm, but she will be a familiar face to many.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele was offered the superintendent position April 26 following Superintendent Lora de la Cruz's resignation. Schiele has worked in the district since 2003.
"I've been here for 18 years, and I'm excited about the next part of my journey," Schiele said.
She started her LOSD career as a counselor and along the way to her current role she also worked as an assistant principal and principal.
Such experience in one district affords Schiele a unique perspective stepping into her new role.
"I think we have an amazing community here, and wearing so many hats has allowed me to see that in a lot of different lenses," she said. "Working as a counselor, and working with students and teachers, gives you a very different perspective than somebody who is working as a principal, so I think all of those perspectives have helped guide me and prepare me for this next role."
She said the common thread throughout all those roles is caring for the students and families in the district, as well as the teachers and staff who work on the ground with the students.
"So even though the jobs are all different, they had that core value," she said.
Though most of her professional experience in the district has been spent on the Lakeridge side of the lake, Schiele has had the opportunity to work with students and families throughout the district since taking on her role as assistant superintendent in July 2018.
Still, for parents who are less familiar with Schiele, she said she wants them to know how deeply she cares about the children in Lake Oswego.
"I have this deep-rooted belief in children and taking care of them and making sure that they feel not only that they are welcome, but they contribute to our excellence as a whole," she said. "I've just always felt like it's so important to find students' passions and help them with getting every door open to them that helps them live a happy, healthy life."
Schiele has a reputation for inspiring and encouraging her students in their areas of interest.
Mya Gordon, a 2020 Lakeridge graduate who co-chaired the district's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and created a documentary about the city's racist roots, was first encouraged by Schiele to start an Equity Council at Lakeridge after sharing that she'd experienced feeling like an outsider as a Black student in a predominantly white school.
Alexander Schaffer, a 2014 Lakeridge grad, had a similar experience.
As a new eighth grader in the district, Schaffer ran for student body vice president at Lakeridge Middle School, which was then known as Waluga Junior High.
"When I lost, Dr. Schiele pulled me aside and said something along the lines that even though I wasn't voted for, people will see me as a leader anyway," Schaffer said. "I went on to be captain of the Lakeridge water polo and swim teams. Dr. Schiele was a leader to me as principal of Waluga and Lakeridge my entire time in LO, and she'll be a great leader as the LOSD superintendent," he said.
Schiele steps into her role July 1 and will hit the ground running with several goals.
She said first and foremost, her goal is to get K-12 students back to five full days of in-person instruction.
"It seems like that shouldn't have to be a goal, but it is right now to make sure that we have the plans in place to keep our students and employees safe," she said.
Her other priority is moving the district's strategic plan forward. The plan, which has been in development for over a year, will set the foundation for decision-making in the district.
"It has some very strong pillars that I believe deeply in, so I want to make sure that we get this plan out to the community," she said.
Schiele will continue to work closely with de la Cruz to ensure a smooth transition this summer.
"I work super hard and I want the best for all students," she said.
Schiele said she believes everyone is in that boat — families, teachers and administrators all want the best for students.
"And I like to find common ground so that we can do what students need us to do, which is work extremely hard for their success," she said.
Schiele said her door is always open to parents or students who need anything.
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