OUR VIEW: Hislopís legacy of excellence

By Observer editorial December 09, 2013 11:02 am


America often takes its educators of granted. Except when it concerns pay raises or bond levies, the men and women who toil to educate our youth can, and often do, fade into the collective white noise of American popular culture. Unless the news is bad — a teacher accused of improper behavior with a student or some other misdeed that grabs quick headlines — our education institutions and those who perform inside of them often fall into the pantheon of institutions that we see every day but, really, take for granted.

 The fact our educators face daunting challenges — from budget constraints to state and federal regulations — every day in the effort to accomplish their main mission of teaching our children sometimes fades away.

Like any element of our society, our education apparatus in America needs improvement. The list of categories where the skeptical observer can find deficiencies in our education system is, in some ways, obvious.

Yet for all of the things that could — and should — be better about our education system, occasionally a verifiable bright spot can be found. No educator fits that bill more precisely than Imbler School District Superintendent Doug Hislop.

For those new to the Union County community, Doug Hislop might seem like just another name in a long list of individuals who served their time in the front lines of the local education saga and then faded away.

For many, however, who grew up in La Grande and attended either Greenwood Elementary School, La Grande Middle and High schools or the Imbler schools, Hislop’s name delivers connotations of excellence and dedication.

Hislop announced recently that he plans to retire at the end of this school year, in a sense capping a 43-year-long education career. That Hislop will depart — at 66 and in the wake of a bond levy triumph he engineered in Imbler in 2010 — is probably not a surprise. And the fact there are dedicated educators such as Hislop in the ranks of the local school districts should not be a shock either.

While there is no surprise there should be, and will be, a sense of regret. Hislop’s departure will mark, in a real way, the end of an era. Throughout his career the La Grande resident mentored and taught thousands of youth. He helped guide young athletes back in the glory days of the 
La Grande High School wrestling program. He has been a coach, a teacher, a confidante and a steadfast advocate for education.

Doug Hislop says he will retire at the end of the school year. While that departure will be a blow — and perhaps he may reconsider — he will leave the institutions he served better off in the long run by his solid commitment.