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Sue Hekker, who joined the school board in 2007, has weathered a recession and the stubborn COVID-19 pandemic.

COURTESY PHOTO: SUE HEKKER - Longtime Sherwood School Board member Sue Hekker will step down June 30. Changes in the Sherwood School District are coming rapidly, with a new interim superintendent announced and a replacement found for longtime school board member Sue Hekker, who is resigning and will leave her position on June 30.

At the school board meeting Wednesday, June 8, board members approved former Hillsboro schools superintendent Jeremy Lyon as the new Sherwood School District chief.

He will take over for Heather Cordie, who announced she would be leaving the Sherwood district for a position as deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for the Beaverton School District, effective at the end of June.

The board also appointed Jeffrey A. Lee to replace Hekker on July 1, serving out the remainder of her term, which expires June 30, 2023.

The board also considered Matthew Thornton, Justin Kai, Hans Moller, Ian Swanson and Janice Hayes for the school board position.

In an interview with the Sherwood Gazette, Hekker, who joined the school board in 2007, talked about her long tenure with the school board.

"I had intended to step down two years ago, when my son graduated," Hekker said. "I actually have stayed longer, partially because of the pandemic … and to help this new board get situated over the last year."

Hekker continued, "I've been around for a long time, so my goal was to provide some institutional knowledge and hopefully help bring them along and get them up to date."

Hekker reflected on her years serving on the Sherwood school board.

"Obviously, it's been a lot of years," she said. "In that period of time, we have been through an awful lot. The recession obviously was really difficult and weathering those storms. I would say through that, we're really pleased as a district, and as a community, to have been able to sustain programs for students and kids. That really was what I would call a shared sacrifice."

There have been many changes in the district during Hekker's long run as board member, including the reconfiguring of district schools and the building of a new and spacious high school.

"For the first time, as a resident for 20 some years, we've been able to finally get ahead of our growth," Hekker said. "That was a real struggle for a lot of years. Our growth was so quick. But to keep up with that was a challenge. We're really pleased with that."

Hekker said it was a challenge for the district to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The challenge being on a school board in the pandemic was really difficult just from the standpoint that there wasn't a lot we could do," Hekker said. "I'm proud of how well the district was able to consistently pivot. It was ever changing. It was distance learning, it was remote, it was masks, you name it. None of it was fun or pleasant."

Hekker continued, "And ultimately, it was really heartbreaking for what everyone went through, families, students. It was really brutal."

She added, "I'm impressed with the resilience of the entire district team, and certainly of the kids and families going above and beyond and doing their best to make lemonade out of lemons."

Hekker touched on other subjects in the Gazette interview, including the departure of Superintendent Cordie, the political learnings of school boards, and the recent news of the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas.

Speaking of Cordie, Hekker said, "I'm disappointed. It will be a loss for Sherwood. She has done an incredible job as a superintendent. I was one of the people on the board that went over and first interviewed her and hired her. She has done a remarkable job really getting Sherwood to where we are today."

Asked if a new school board in Sherwood would lean one way or the other politically — the neighboring Newberg School District has drawn national attention for the sharp policy changes effected by a conservative majority on its school board over the past year — Hekker said, "I've always been on the school board as a bipartisan representative. I'm only there to do what I can for kids, and that's what that role is supposed to be. I can't speak for the board."

She continued, "I know everybody on the board is doing the best for kids, whatever their political leanings may or may not be."

With an increase in mass shootings in the United States, including the recent school shooting that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Hekker was asked how the Sherwood School District is coping.

"I wholeheartedly believe we are doing the best job," Hekker said, noting that the district has been coordinating with first responders. "We're taking all the appropriate measures to do everything we can for safety and security."

Hekker said, "I don't think anybody feels comfortable anymore. It's just a sad situation, obviously."

Hekker hopes to stay involved in the community and the school district once she leaves the school board the end of June.

"I think I'll always pay attention," she said. "I'm absolutely happy to help in any way I can if board members or anyone in the district needs help."

Hekker added, "I will definitely take that call, but I'm also not going to be on the phone calling board members, because it's time for a brand-new group. I'm excited for them. I'll let them do their thing."


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