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Two candidates for Clackamas Education Service District outline ideas for helping region's most vulnerable students.

Glenda Scherer

Nadene Duffield, who is the longest serving board member for the Clackamas Education Service District, has only occasionally had an opponent in her nearly 25 years in the elected position.

Glenda Scherer is mounting that rare opposition for the at-large countywide seat in the May 18 election, and the following are profiles of both candidates.

Nadene Duffield

A resident of the Redland area near Oregon City, Duffield starting working as a teacher at Riverside School in the North Clackamas district in 1969. She has spent her entire career as a teacher, with most of those years at Redland Elementary School.

Nadene Duffield"I saw first-hand the vital services Clackamas ESD provided to my students, our school and our district, and I knew I could provide valuable perspective that would help the ESD stay focused on the constantly changing needs of the districts it serves," she said. "I am extremely proud of the way we have partnered with the 10 school districts in our county to dramatically increase the support we provide to them in special education, early learning, technology and many other areas. It is invigorating to be a leader in an organization that has such a tremendous impact on tens of thousands of children and the teachers and other staff who support them."

Clackamas ESD expenditures are "driven completely" by the distinct needs of each of partner school districts, and the service district is accountable to them, Duffield said.

"I am intimately familiar with the intricacies of our budget, which comes from a mixture of state school funds, state and federal grants, and contracts for our various services," she said. "Every year, we create detailed plans for each of our districts, outlining how we will use funding from all sources to provide the services they have told us they need, and we provide equally detailed accounts of how we helped them serve their students in the previous year. It is an excellent system that allows us to listen to our school district partners, expand or reduce services as necessary, and work creatively together to address gaps in supporting the 10% of Oregon students who live in Clackamas County."

Beyond her work on the ESD board, Duffield has volunteered for years as a reading tutor in Clackamas County schools, but she had to stop that work when COVID-19 hit in spring 2020 and classrooms emptied. Also put on hold was her volunteer position as a docent at the Stevens Crawford Heritage House in Oregon City.

Duffield stays active, though, keeping up with her seven grandchildren, and managing upgrades to her home in the middle of 20 acres of forest. She and her husband were forced to evacuate during the fall 2020 wildfires. She's grateful to be back home, and plans online reading tutoring with a granddaughter and some of her friends.

"Everyone needs to be able to do something that makes you feel you are contributing to society," she said. "I love the fact I've never stopped teaching."

These days through the ESD Board, Duffield has been helping sift through dozens of applications to replace the ESD superintendent who is retiring in June.

Glenda Scherer

Glenda Scherer wants to represent families and students as a board member of the Clackamas Service District by giving them a voice as schools begin transitioning back to some semblance of normalcy following this COVID-19 pandemic.

A resident of Gladstone, Scherer is a mother to a preschooler and special education teacher of over 20 years who wants Clackamas ESD to set the standard for education in the region. She holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Portland State University, as well as a bachelor's in education from Missouri's College of the Ozarks. She's currently licensed in K-12 special education, as a reading specialist and in English language arts.

"I'm at home with my preschool son, and I have a lot of time on my hands. I've always felt that if you have the time and capacity to serve, you should," Scherer said. "I'm very familiar with Clackamas ESD because when I was a special education teacher the district would do my referrals for the students who were on my caseloads, and there's just such and important value in the work (the district) does."

Scherer said that through her canvassing efforts as part of her campaign, she's found that most people aren't familiar with the work Clackamas ESD does unless their family has personally benefited from its programs. That's something she'd like to change, and she feels that there could be greater public outreach to help Clackamas County families understand what resources are available for them and their students to fully flourish.

"Right now we are in a place where we need to be restoring educational opportunities for our youngest, most vulnerable kids. Their programs are only running at about 30%," Scherer said. "All research shows that sooner you can intervene and support kids, the better the outcomes are for them. That's one of the main reasons I'm running is knowing that I can be a voice for families that feel like they didn't get the correct services throughout this time."

Scherer said that if elected, she would help moderate the discussion within the community and with the state leaders around kids getting back into their classrooms in a way that fosters the two sides as a collective rather than separate entities at odds with one another.

"If that's something other board members are comfortable with, we can initiative communication with the state to say that these things, you know, rules and stipulations, are preventing us from fulfilling what we need to do for our children," Scherer said. "These are uncharted waters, but we do know more now and have these mitigation efforts in place. Instead of slowly drawing this out, we need robust leadership to bring up this conversation that we have an obligation as a board and service district to our job which is to educate young children."

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