An educator with ties to a region in England famous for producing shoes and hiking boots may soon be trekking up rocky trails in Northeast Oregon and walking the halls of

La Grande High School.

Darren Goodman, a vice principal at Oak Hills High School in Southern California, has been nominated to become La Grande High School’s next athletic director.

“He will be a great asset to our students, school district and the community,” said La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza.

Mendoza is recommending Goodman for the LHS AD position after an extensive search in which input was taken from school board members, school administrators, teachers and classified staff. According to a school district news release, Mendoza will officially recommend that the La Grande School Board hire Goodman when it meets July 11.

Goodman, an educator since 1994, has served as vice principal in charge of athletics at Oak Hills High School in Hesperia, California, since 2009.

Goodman was born in Kettering, England, which is in Northamptonshire. The county has long been known internationally for its shoe and boot manufacturing plants. He moved with his family to the United States when he was 8, but not before developing an English accent and a love of soccer. He said he lost his accent long ago but has retained his passion for soccer.

“I have been coaching soccer (at a variety of levels) since I was 20,” said Goodman, who does not plan to coach at LHS.

Goodman began coaching the boys soccer team at Oak Hills High School in 2009, the same year the school opened. His teams won five league titles and made four appearances in the state championship game.

Whether on the athletic field or in his office, Goodman has an uncanny ability to connect with students, according to Larry Porras, a former principal at Oak Hills and Hesperia high schools, for whom Goodman worked for 14 years.

“I firmly believe you can be taught curriculum (as an educator) but you cannot be taught the gift for developing a rapport with students,” Porras said. “He has a natural rapport with young people that is incredible.”

See complete story in Friday's Observer

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