YAKIMA, Wash. — Feedback and collaboration among school staff, parents, students and the broader community will guide the Yakima School District if Trevor Greene is hired as the new superintendent, the candidate said during an open forum Tuesday.
Greene, executive director of human resources for Highline Public Schools in Burien since 2015, is one of three candidates selected to continue on from school board interviews last week to full-day meetings with students, community members and Superintendent Jack Irion and the board this week. Ben Ramirez of Fife and John Boyd of Quincy were also selected, but Boyd withdrew his application Tuesday, leaving just two contestants for the role when Irion retires at the end of the school year.
Greene said he did not expect to lead the district on his own if he assumes the role.
“Families, students (and the larger) community partner together to really address ... building a community through education,” he said. “It’s actually all of us that do that. It’s not just one individual or one entity, but there are opportunities to partner all over the Valley.
“To see those opportunities really come to fruition is what I really want to have happen — to really give a way for every student to achieve his or her dreams.”
Businesses, educational institutions, churches and parents should all be included in this process, he said.
Greene alternated between Spanish and English as he responded to a community member’s concern over engaging parents of English as a second language (ESL). He said he intended to meet parents where it’s convenient for them and to find out how best to support them in navigating the school system and being participants in their children’s academic process.
Asked if he would try to implement a dual language education system across the district, Greene was hesitant, explaining that some schools in the district might benefit while others might not.
“My plan is ... to really understand the context of what I’m walking into and what exists,” he said, pointing to a language program launched in the Highline School District that was later removed due to a lack of student interest and community support.
“One thing we’re good at doing in education is making decisions for people,” he said. Any dual program would need to be planned based on demand and funding ability, he said.
“We get into a very dangerous area when ... administration is making that decision absent of the community or of what our students really benefit from,” he said.
Greene said student feedback during his time as principal of Toppenish High School led the way for enrollment in calculus and chemistry courses to increase by 33 percent and 170 percent, respectively. Students were asked for their interest in hands-on programs, which encouraged the school to move forward in launching hands-on courses in subjects such as engineering.
He said he was also proud of his work in improving special education by getting students out of their self-contained classrooms to experience music and adaptive PE each day, and his work in developing a two-year teacher program that allowed paraeducators to become licensed teachers in their own community, adding 15 teachers to Highline’s staff in the first two-year cycle.
After the community meeting, Greene continued on to a final interview with Irion and the board.
The candidate vetting process will continue with a full-day tour and meetings on Wednesday with Ramirez, assistant superintendent of the Fife School District since 2013. The board intends to offer a contract on Thursday, and the new superintendent is expected to begin in July.