Advocate for equity
Editor's note: This story is the second of several that introduce new members of the North Marion School District Board.
Although he's the newest addition to the North Marion School Board, Bill Graupp is a seasoned director.
Graupp won school board elections in 2013 and 2017, yet in May 2021, former Hubbard resident Sarah Powlison nudged him out by a nose. But a school board member must live in the area in which she or he serves. So when Powlison moved out of the area a few weeks ago, Graupp chose to apply to fill Position 6, his position until Powlison began on July 1. NM School Board appointed Graupp to his former position this September.
Graupp, a married Aurora resident with two grown children, is familiar with the school system. He says he wanted to continue serving the school district students and the state as a whole and that he values the role that the school board fills for the community.
"The school board's most important duties are to set goals for student achievement and standards for the district, provide leadership to enable the goals to be met through policies and financial responsibility," said Graupp, who has also served as mayor of Aurora and as the Aurora City Council president. "We are also proud to advocate for public education support at all levels."
Returning to full-time, in-person learning this fall after a pandemic hiatus will be crucial for students, he says.
"I'm looking forward to engaging with staff to return student learning and engagement to levels that are needed to maximize the education experience," said Graupp, the Principal Technologist at Siemens EDA (formerly Mentor Graphics) in Wilsonville.
In addition to serving on the Aurora City Council, Graupp has served on the Aurora Planning Commission, Educator Advancement Council (director), and the Oregon School Boards Association. He continues to serve on the Oregon FBLA Board of Trustees (chair), Oregon Educators Benefit Board (director), Oregon School Board Members Color Caucus (president).
"I have been an OSBA board member since 2014 and have had the opportunity to work with school boards across the state for the past eight years," said Maureen Jefvert Wolf, president of the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA). "I have worked the most with Bill in his role as a member of the school board Members of Color Caucus which was created by OSBA in 2016, but became an official voting member of the board in 2019. Bill embodies what we expect from board members. He stays focused on how decisions impact students and uses data and analysis to make those decisions."
A Student Supporter
Graupp also has a heart for helping young people. He supports the American Red Cross, giving platelets about every two weeks and donating plasma monthly so that infants with cancer can get the help they need. Graupp found the time to co-found a group that supports and educates its high school participants. In addition, he somehow also makes time to volunteer as the treasurer of the Oregon Career Technical Education Student Leadership Foundation, which supports career and technical leadership programs for students, such as FBLA. At the start of the 2020-21 school year, he co-founded Students Advocating for Equity (SAFE) with former teacher Ty Brack after several Hispanic students approached Graupp with details on racial issues in the classroom.
SAFE member and senior Ime Guzman, who has known Graupp for two years, says Graupp is a determined person with "lots of amazing ideas to better the school and community." Guzman said that he is touched that Grapp takes the time out of his day to "connect and engage with the students" he serves, and Graupp has already taught him so much.
"I've learned to not back down from a fight, and to stand for what you believe in!" said Guzman, the Associated Student Body (ASB) president.
Junior Yadira Romero Navarro, also a member of SAFE, says that she has known Graupp for a year and that "he's been a pleasure to work with!"
"He's determined to make our community a more welcoming place for everyone," said Romero Navarro, the ASB vice president.
A Pennsylvanian Prodigy
True, Graupp's experience is extensive, and his heart is tender, but, to top it off, his mind is keen. The youngest of five (three brothers, one sister), Graupp grew up in the Glenside Housing Project in Reading, Pennsylvania. One of his brothers brought home a freshman calculus textbook from one of his classes at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), placing it in Graupp's eager hands when he was in just ninth grade.
Graupp got halfway through the book on his own, a teacher helping him plow through the rest, when Graupp realized that he longed to attend college because of his intense desire to tap into the knowledge and resources available in higher education. Also, he was afraid of some of the trouble a young person could get mired in around Glenside, such as violence and the illicit drug trade.
Graupp left for Drexel University at age 16, choosing a school where another brother could keep an eye on him. Western Electric/Bell Labs brought in Graupp as an intern when he was just 17. He was now a long way from trouble, just beginning to find the opportunities he craved for his sharp mind.
"Bill is curious," Jefvert Wolf said. "He hears about best practices happening at other districts and wants to learn more to see if that will serve his district as well. I know he reached out to me several years ago when Tigard-Tualatin SD had passed our construction bond and was forming our community oversight committee. He was curious how we selected members and what their role would be in conjunction with oversight. That is just one example of our shared interest of continual learning and leveraging best practices."
Not only an avid volunteer, Graupp is a respected professional. He has been working in the tech field since 1989, carrying a Master of Business Administration in organizational leadership and sustainability from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Drexel.
He also holds five highly complicated patents. For example, one patent is called "gate modeling for semiconductor fabrication process effects." But, unlike a semiconductor, which can carry an electric current, Graupp is slow to heat up.
"I have seen him engage at several board meetings and Bill is at ease in contributing to the conversation, but maintains a calm and thoughtful demeanor," Jefvert Wolf said. "I am now in my 13th year as a local board member. I have never seen a time when calm, thoughtful, and student-driven board members were needed like they are in today's climate. Bill will serve your district and students well (like he has been for many years!)."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.