Photo Credit: TYLER FRANCKE | WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - The Woodburn School District's new, or returning, assistant principals include, from left, Mateo Courtney, Washington Elementary; Jeff Taylor, French Prairie; Karyn Bayer, Nellie Muir; Yolanda Lopez, Valor; and Josh Porter, Lincoln. The hires put the district's administrative staff back at the level it was before budget cuts necessitated by the great recession.The Woodburn School District introduced its five new, or returning, assistant principals during the school board’s Aug. 21 meeting.

Though Superintendent Chuck Ransom was reluctact to describe the district’s administrative staff as “full strength” (“We could always use more,” he said), the hires do return administrative staff to the level it was before budget cuts necessitated by the nationwide recession.

During the meeting, Ransom thanked the schools’ principals and other staff for “keeping the district running through a very difficult time,” when the administrative ranks were much thinner.

“If I?had to give advice to anybody, I would say don’t cut the administrative staff quite to the levels that we did, but it was what was needed at the time,” Ransom said. “But this is a very exciting time. The work we need to do, which is tied to our board goals, we can’t do without the level of support we now have.”

The hires include Yolanda Lopez, Valor Middle School; Jeff Taylor, French Prairie Middle School; Josh Porter, Lincoln Elementary School; Karyn Bayer, Nellie Muir Elementary School; and Mateo Courtney, Washington Elementary School.

Lopez shared with the school board her story of overcoming the odds. As a teenager, she dropped out of high school, but later returned to the Woodburn School District as a special education assistant in 1998.

Through the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program, she would later earn an associate degree from Chemeketa Community College and a bachelor’s from Portland State University, and serve the district as a middle and high school teacher.

French Prairie Principal Ricardo Marquez introduced Taylor, who is returning to his former position (which was eliminated during budget cuts) after two years as an assistant director for the English Language Learners Program in Portland Public Schools.

“He knew he wanted to come back for our students, and we offered him a job,” Marquez said. “He’s excited to come back and I’m excited to have him back.”

Lincoln Principal Jennifer Crist introduced Porter, who also comes to Woodburn from the Portland school district, specifically Jason Lee Elementary. Asked why he was interested in transferring to a smaller district, Porter admitted that he “kind of got tired of the big machine that is Portland.”

“Just looking at what you offer, I?feel like we’re a really good fit,” Porter said. “I’m bilingual; I?love what I?do, and I’m so glad to have this opportunity.”

Courtney was an inside promotion, having served as dean of students at Washington since 2011. He’s also held the positions of parent, community and migrant outreach coordinator for the Welcome Center and Spanish teacher at Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy.

“I’m just excited to continue to work with the district,”?Courtney said.

Bayer was introduced by Nellie Muir Principal Todd Farris, who said she has 17 years experience in education, most recently as an instructional coach in Salem.

“She has already been an instructional leader for us, so we’re excited about that,” Farris said.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.

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