Trevor Green selected 1

Trevor Greene speaks at a community forum on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 in Yakima, Wash. Greene currently works as executive director of human resources at Highline Public Schools. (Evan Abell, Yakima Herald-Republic)

Yakima School District alumnus Trevor Greene has been selected as the next superintendent to lead the district.

The school board voted unanimously Friday morning to welcome him to the district to fill an opening when Superintendent Jack Irion retires in July.

Greene said the offer was a welcome opportunity to invest in his hometown. He graduated from Davis High School and his first job as a teacher was at Eisenhower High School.

“I’m excited, honored, really thrilled that I can return to my home community and make a difference with all of the great people that are already working there,” he said. “One thing that excites me is the collective opportunity to address the supports necessary (to succeed in the district), from pre-kindergarten all the way up to graduation at the age of 21 for our most challenged students.”

Greene has been executive director of human resources at Highline Public Schools in Burien since 2015, and spent a year as the instructional leadership executive director for Highline. During his time at Highline, he has supervised nine principals; co-developed a two-year bilingual teacher program and a program that helps students become teachers; and brought the number of teachers of color up to 53 percent, compared with 16 percent four years ago.

Prior to that, he was principal of Toppenish High School from 2008-13, during which the school reached a 93.5 percent graduation rate — well above the 77.2 percent state average. He was named principal of the year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals for 2012-13, leading him to mentor principals nationwide.

“He fits the profile — I mean to a ‘T’,” said school board President Raymond Navarro. “The board has a vision for the future and we just believe Mr. Greene fits better into that (than other candidates).”

Greene was one of two final candidates vying to replace Irion and lead the district of 16,000 students — the largest in the county. Ben Ramirez of Fife was the other finalist from an initial pool of 15.

“What stood out for me was just the passion and the heart he has for all students,” Navarro said of Greene. “They both did, but for him it just kind of came out, right, a little bit more. And that’s what we appreciate, as well, is that he has that core belief that all students can achieve and that he wants to be part of helping our students achieve and be successful.”

Before the public vote, the board deliberated for two hours in a closed-door session, vetting feedback from an advisory board, community members and students.

Navarro said faculty mentioned Greene’s detailed responses and problem-solving ideas, as well as his background as a Yakima student and deep understanding of the district.

Student leaders who took part in a Tuesday meeting with Greene commented on his ability to listen to their concerns and show empathy toward their needs, Navarro said.

Greene said he intends to spend more time with students.

“The best part of being in education is being able to associate with the students and being able to learn both from them and with them — and making sure they have the resources to be successful,” Greene said.

“Talking with the students was a joy, and I’m looking forward to getting back together with that same group of students, probably at their own schools, so we can have more of a give and take,” he said. “I’m looking forward to roving more of the issues that they did bring up.”

Greene, who speaks fluent Spanish, said he intends to create “more of a direct line of communication” to engage parents of students who speak Spanish only or are bilingual.

Between now and his July 1 start date, he plans to visit Yakima frequently to re-acquaint himself with the community and learn more about the changes over the 14 years he has been away.

In addition to building stronger local connections, school board member Martha Rice said she was keen to see the potential opportunities that Greene’s national-level relationships create for the district.

“Trevor has a lot of contacts nationally that he will be able to tap into,” she said, citing opportunities to improve school leadership through his connection to the national principals association, and safety and security through his friendship with the principal of Columbine High School, where 13 students and staff were killed during an infamous 1999 school shooting.

“We don’t want to have to re-generate a wheel. The wheel already exists. We just need to find those pieces that make the wheel spin smoothly or spin faster,” Rice said. “I think Trevor has the energy that will help to continue to move us forward.”

Rice said the board hopes to have finalized salary and contract details with Greene by the March 19 school board meeting.