Strande ready to be Wood Middle School principal
Mike Strande is looking forward to working in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, a district known for its good reputation — "just how they serve the students and the resources they put into supporting schools," he said.
Strande, Lake Oswego resident and current principal at Rosedale Elementary School in the Hillsboro School District, will switch gears when he starts his new position as principal of Inza R. Wood Middle School July 1.
"I'm excited to meet kids, get to know kids and family and staff," Strande said.
Strande, who grew up and received part of his college education in Montana and graduated from Augustana University in South Dakota with his bachelor's degree in Spanish.
It wasn't until he got married and had his first child that he realized he wanted to be a teacher.
His wife, Julie, a kindergarten teacher at Oak Creek Elementary School in Lake Oswego, influenced this decision, but Strande said he had contemplated working in education for a while. When Strande was in college, he coached high school baseball and a private swim team, and found out he loved working with kids.
He had jobs in the private sector doing sales and worked in the restaurant industry, but realized that wasn't where his heart was.
"It wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be," Strande said. "I wanted to work with kids and adults, too, and I wanted to do that in education."
Strande received his master's in teaching from Concordia University before later obtaining his administrative license.
During his time working in the Hillsboro School District, he taught second and third grade — including dual-language classes in Spanish — for about five years before becoming an instructional coach (IC) and then principal.
"I was always interested in leadership but wanted to teach and see where it would go and after I taught for five or six years, I started thinking about my next step and what I wanted to do," he said.
One of Strande's favorite aspects of being an educator is forming relationships with his students and watching them grow and years later, seeing the impact he had on them.
Now Strande is ready to level up and experience the challenge of being a principal at a middle school. He hopes to hit the ground running at Wood and bring an equity lens to the table.
"I hear they're doing a lot of good things in West Linn-Wilsonville. Hopefully I can jump in there and be a part of things, like equity," he said.
Strande wants to help grow the dual-language program at Wood, which will be offered to seventh graders next year — sixth graders currently have the option to participate in the program.
He also wants to help teachers be the best they can be in the classroom and continue to give students learning opportunities that are applicable in the real world.
"In education, we are trying to grow adults and teach them and do it in a progressive way," Strande said.
When Strande isn't focused on the children in the classroom, he is prioritizing his three boys, Nick, Luke and Finn, at home. In his free time, he helps coach little league baseball, reads, gardens with his wife, travels and goes to the beach.
"I like to call myself a surfer, but I'm not," he said. "Anytime I can be in the water, I'm happy. I'm a swimmer."
Strande is looking forward to the "positive vibe" of Wood and continuing the great work already being accomplished, though he will not stray from finding ways to improve "so we can serve students and families better," he said. "I've got a lot of names to learn coming up here soon. I'm happy to get to know the community — both the school community and the outside community."