Public meets final two candidates

By Dick Mason, The Observer March 05, 2014 10:42 am


IMBLER — All was not quiet on the Imbler School District superintendent search front on Monday.

First, James Baldwin, superintendent of Choteau Public Schools in Choteau, Mont., told the Imbler School District that he was pulling out as a candidate. Baldwin said he wanted to finish his education career in the Big Sky state.

Baldwin’s announcement trimmed the list of Imbler finalists to two, Beth Burton, an educator with the Arlington School District, and Kenneth Cox, superintendent of the Vernonia School District. 

Burton and Cox both were in Imbler Monday for meetings with the public, Imbler’s school staff and the school board. The educators, in their public presentations, spoke about how they would direct the district and their careers. Burton and Cox are seeking to succeed Doug Hislop, who will retire at the end of June after 10 years as Imbler’s superintendent and 43 years as an educator. 

Burton and Cox both have strong Eastern Oregon ties. Cox  worked as an educator in Wasco County from 1983 to 2006, where he was primarily an administrator. Burton grew up in Northeast Oregon, where she attended Weston-McEwen High School. She is in her third year with the Arlington School District.

Cox began his career in 1978 as a middle school math and science teacher. He said that the approach educators have toward teaching is much different today.

“It is no longer, ‘I’m the teacher and you are an empty vessel and I’m going to fill you (with knowledge),’” Cox said. 

Instead, educators are more like coaches as they strive to find ways to reach individual students.

“Teachers are coaching more and lecturing less,” Cox said. 

Cox said he strives to be as open with everything as possible, including the school district budget.

“My leadership style is to be as transparent as possible,” Cox said.

Cox said he would encourage people to share their opinions with him.

“If you don’t like my haircut tell me. I might not change it, but I want to know about it. I want to hear your opinion,” he said.

Burton said that if named Imbler’s superintendent she would not anticipate making any big adjustments.

“I’m not a sweeping change type of person. I don’t see a lot of problems here,’’ Burton said.

The many programs she is impressed with is Imbler High School’s FFA program.

“I knew that the FFA program was strong but I had no idea of the depth of it,’’ Burton said.

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