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Vergara named Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year Print E-mail

victor-vergara.jpgVictor Vergara has been named the Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). Vergara serves as Principal for Valor Middle School in Woodburn.

“This award represents a collaborative effort by administrators, teachers, students and their families,” said Principal Vergara. “It is a great honor.”

Vergara was selected because of his work to improve the academic achievement of students. In 2002, Valor was one of the lower performing schools in the state. Only eight percent of students were considered proficient in writing, 29 percent in math, and 25 percent in reading. There were also 1,500 disciplinary referrals each year.

Vergara made it his mission to change the existing culture of the school. “We reached out to parents and students and told them, ‘You matter. We need you involved and engaged in what happens in the classroom.’”

In 2010, Valor was recognized as a Celebrating Success School by the Oregon State Department of Education. In 2011, Valor again received an award from the state as a Continuing Success School for its strong academic record. Test scores for the year showed 80 percent of students were proficient in math, 70 percent in writing, and 69 percent in reading.

“We have as many as 120 adults show up for parents’ night now,” said Vergara. “They understand that academic achievement by a child is directly related to involvement by a parent, or guardian.”

Vergara says that being involved with students and their families is the key to the schools success. Faculty and administrators talk to parents on a regular basis, and pay close attention to student behavior. It took a while to reach his audience because many Valor students are challenged by language barriers, and/or living at or below the poverty level.

“I know what and how they are feeling,” he said. “I moved to another country, and had to learn another language. I was hungry and had no place to sleep sometimes. If I did it, they can, too.”

Vergara came to the United States from Chile in 1995 after receiving an undergraduate degree in History and Geography. He began his career in education teaching in a private school in Portland, Ore., before joining the Woodburn School District in 2000. He has worked as a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Valor, and then as Assistant Principal after completing his Master’s Degree in School Administration. Vergara was appointed as Valor’s Principal in 2007.

Vergara, who has two children, is getting married in July. “Overall, this has been a pretty good year for me,” he said.

The award automatically places Vergara in the running for the National Middle School Principal of the Year Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and MetLife. He will be honored at the 38th Annual COSA Professional Development Conference in Seaside, Ore., June 21-22.  He will also be honored Sept. 19-22 at the NASSP State Principals of the Year Institute and Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.

Woodburn School District provides a world class education to 5,552 students in grades K-12 across four elementary, two middle and five small high schools. Woodburn has rigorous academic programs such as all-day kindergarten, Advanced Placement classes, bilingual curriculums in Russian and Spanish, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma. For more information about Woodburn School District, visit www.woodburn.k12.or.us.

This page was last updated on Monday, June 11, 2012 .