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After impressive wins, new Lake Oswego School Board members look ahead to their first terms, which begin July 1.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Sara Pocklington spends a moment on election night with School Board member Bob Barman.Greek author Heraclitus of Ephesus earned a reputation as a "dark" philosopher because his works were so complex that readers often felt lost, but the great thinker left us with one simple truth: Change is the only constant in life.

HARTMANThat ancient axiom certainly held true on May 16, when only one of the Lake Oswego School Board's three open seats was filled by an incumbent — Liz Hartman, who ran unopposed for Position 4. The other two seats, as Heraclitus would no doubt expect, went to advocates for change.

Sara Pocklington and Rob Wagner will start their first four-year terms on the board July 1.

Wagner ran unopposed for the Position 2 seat vacated by board Chair Sarah Howell, who chose not to run for a second term. A longtime volunteer who served on the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation board, he currently works as the associate vice president for advancement at Portland Community College, where he oversees community outreach and the nonprofit PCC Foundation.

Wagner, who has also served on Forest Hills Elementary School's School Advisory Committee and the Lake Oswego School District's Program Committee, has a blended family with wife Laurie Cremona Wagner, a vice president with a Germany-based company called SAP. Together, the couple is raising Lake Oswego Junior High eighth-graders Mia and Zack, LOJ sixth-grader Carlo and Forest Hills fifth-grader Alex.

Unlike Hartman and Wagner, Pocklington ran the only contested School Board race in the May 16 election, capturing 56.4 percent of the vote to oust two-term incumbent John Wendland from Position 3.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rob Wagner (left) celebrates the passage of the school bond on May 16 with board members Liz Hartman and John Wallin.

Pocklington is a certified public accountant and technology accounting director for Nike. Her volunteer experience in the district includes serving as chairwoman of the Safety and Technology Advisory Committee for the Lake Oswego School District in 2015 and as a school site captain for the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation. She's a parent club volunteer at River Grove Elementary School, where her son Andrew is a third-grader and daughter Ava is a first-grader. Her partner, Ricard Aleu, and his children, Marc and Bet (who attend school in Beaverton), complete the blended family.

This week, we asked Wagner and Pocklington to reflect on their election to the School Board. Do they see their impressive wins as a mandate for the kind of change Heraclitus predicted? Here's what they had to say:

Sara Pocklington

Q. With such a wide margin of victory (56 percent to 44 percent), it seems as though the voters were making a case for change. What do you offer that your opponent did not?

A. This is a tough question, as I can only speculate on what might have driven the vote count and I don't want to speak for anyone else. What I can say is that in my opinion, the needs of our students and our district are not the same as they were eight years ago, and we need a board that has the skill set to lead us through the current landscape. The message that I think resonated with voters was the idea of continuous improvement, deeper financial expertise and broader parent representation.

Q. What are some of the changes that you will advocate for as a board member in terms of programming and instructional offerings?

A. The most foundational thing that I will advocate for is refining the strategic planning process and more closely aligning our strategic priorities with the decision-making process. Today, from an "outside" perspective, it feels like we are making decisions in silos without consistent information on the impact to students and stakeholders, budgetary considerations and the change management required. I will advocate for a decision-making framework that is more comprehensive and allows the board and the public to understand how any one decision moves us closer to our goals and what the interdependencies are.

That said, in terms of programming and instructional offerings, I would like to advocate for computer science education at all levels. Additionally, it is really important to me that we look at how we can incorporate programming and curricular content that promotes inclusion and celebrates diversity. In my opinion, we have to be more proactive in our approach to preventing racial and religious intolerance in our schools, aligned with a broader community effort.

Q. Are there some things that you'd like to grow or build upon?

A. Elementary World Languages is a hot topic right now and something very near and dear to my heart. Having lived overseas and witnessed firsthand the value in being able to communicate in multiple languages, I strongly believe that language is the gateway to a world of opportunities. I would love to see us continue to build upon our current immersion program, but also offer a baseline of language exposure to all students. Research is pretty clear that there are many positive side effects of being exposed to other languages even in small amounts, and we need to figure out the right balance of offerings across the enrichment-to-immersion spectrum.

I'm also really excited about the momentum around maker spaces and career technical education. We currently have pockets of this working really well, and through the bond process, I'm looking forward to working with teachers, parents and students to identify those things that we can leverage and expand.

Q. Just because you want to change some things doesn't mean you want to upend the whole system. What are some of the accomplishments of past School Boards and district staff that you would like to keep as they are?

A. We do many, many things well in our district, as indicated by the consistently high ratings and accolades that our schools and district consistently receive. That said, I don't think things should ever be targeted to stay as they are. We have to continue to evolve, and that doesn't necessarily mean upending anything.

I really believe in the continuous improvement mindset, so even when things are working well, we should be asking ourselves what the next iteration is. Again, that can take the form of progressive change versus disruptive change, but I don't think you'll ever hear me say that our work is done.

Q. Why do you think change in leadership is beneficial to a group of elected officials?

A. I think new perspective is always important for growth. Looking at things from a different angle can lead to new ideas and solutions to persistent problems. I'm really excited about the composition of the new board, in that we will have three returning board members, all of whom have had children graduate from our schools, and two new members with kids in the district for years to come. I truly think this diversity of experience and life stage will lead to some great ideas and a robust vision for our future.

Rob Wagner

Q. What is the first thing you want to change, besides the name tag, when you join the School Board on July 1?

A. I believe that we can step up community engagement — both with parents and in partnership with our City Council, neighborhood groups, businesses and other civic organizations. As a graduate of our local schools and as a parent of four children currently in our schools, I know how important communication is — not only with parents but also with the broader community in Lake Oswego.

In my first year, I'm hoping to be able to coordinate visits with other board members to every School Advisory Committee meeting, every parent-teacher group, the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups in the community.

Q. What are some of the changes that you will advocate for as a board member, especially in the area of technical education and dual-credit programs?

A. This was a primary reason that I decided to run for the School Board. I'm glad the bond that passed specifically addresses science, engineering, technology and math, and also their relationship to the arts and other creative pursuits.

Working at Portland Community College and having been involved in statewide conversations on STEM and career and technical education for two decades, I believe there is greater partnership potential with local colleges, employers and the state. I look forward to working with the district to advance those partnerships.

Q. What are some recent changes that the School Board has made that have impressed you?

A. I believe the district is making progress at it relates to equity, inclusion, civics and school culture. Recent incidents of racism and anti-Semitism highlight the need for targeted attention to these issues through the district's strategic plan. I'll be very vocal on working with the district administration and our community to demonstrate that we are taking these issues seriously and embedding diversity and inclusion training within the work of the school district.

More broadly, the School Board should continue to be actively engaging with the community to demonstrate that this work is happening and that the values of schools align with the values of the entire community.

Q. Just because you want to change some things doesn't mean you want to upend the whole system. What are some of the accomplishments of past School Boards and district staff that you would like to keep as they are?

A. The bond election was a huge win for Lake Oswego. We haven't seen that level of support for our schools in a long time. In addition to the critical need expressed through the bond, I think it demonstrates a respect for district operations and the amazing work our teachers and classified employees do on behalf our children. The responsibility the School Board has now is to execute on developing projects in a process that is community-driven, on time and on budget.

Q. How can change on the School Board be beneficial to the community? Are there any drawbacks?

A. As members step off the School Board, I think it's important to remember where we have been and the effort and commitment previous board members made. However, fresh thinking provides an opportunity

to step back and ask what we are

currently doing and why.

I look forward to being a part of that dialogue and listening and engaging the community to find out what they think the district is doing well and what it could be doing better. There is always room for growth in partnership with our community.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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