Lake County School District #7 has a new superintendent, Michael Carter, who will be replacing Will Cahill who is retiring at the end of June.
Carter has been the superintendent of the Rainier School District for the past 17 years. Before that he was the principal in the district, and was asked to apply by many of his colleagues within the district for the Rainier position. When he was the principal at Rainier he always taught a class every year to still feel connected to the classroom. During the summers he taught a finance class at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, that was part online and part on campus. He has also taught school law for Concordia of Chicago, an online class.
Before going to Rainier, Carter was a teacher at school districts in elementary and high schools in California and Oklahoma, where he taught both social studies and physical education. He also coached baseball and basketball during that time.
Carter and Cahill have known each other for almost 20 years, as they were both in the same administrative license class together when they were moving into more administrative roles within their respective schools.
“I think it is an excellent choice, he is a wonderful educational professional. A consummate professional and is passionate about the education of students. He will bring great things to LCSD#7,” said Cahill. “I look forward to a smooth and orderly transition.”
When he was living in the Southern California area he was asked to fill in for a vice-principal who was sick and after awhile he was asked to remain for the rest of the semester, which is how he got his start on the administrative side of the school.
“Part of my role is to keep up to date on what is changing in academics and what is best to prepare students. Also to provide resources to both students and teachers to meet the ever changing needs of the job market,” said Carter.
He believes that it is important that school districts do not remain stagnant but be forward looking in how they are preparing students for both work and university. Whether that is embracing new technology into the classroom, or different teaching methodologies. Carter believes that by everyone in the district, teachers and administrative staff, being on the same track to be the best educators for students then the district will be at its best.
“I felt good about the interview, I turned down other job offers and even had other interviews lined up after I was offered the job that I withdrew my name from,” Carter said.
He believes that it will be an excellent match and he plans to stay around six-to-eight years in the role.
One of the reasons he is leaving Rainier, especially after such a long time, is that he felt the school district and it’s board had reached a place where new leadership could really move the school district forward. He felt that it was time for a change and that change is a good thing as it does not lead to complacency.
“This new job will use my skills for a new challenge and a new opportunity,” Carter said.
While Carter has not led a bond drive as superintendent he has played supportive roles in other bond drives as principal. He looks forward to leading LCSD#7 on their bond drive, which was pushed back to at least May 2021. Carter admitted that bond drives take a lot of work, and that they need community support to be successful. He believes that it will take a community-wide conversation to get the people on board, but also to see what they would like to see as well.
Carter does see challenges relating to both students and teachers and the current COVID-19, which has shut down schools for the rest of the academic year, and forced teachers to go the distance learning route.
“We will need emotional, and trauma led, education going forward next year. We will need to do healing as a community, both students and teachers. This has been a very isolating time and it will be a huge challenge,” Carter said.
One thing he wants to do is get all teachers together as a group and to debrief about the experience. Talk about what worked and what didn’t work. He described the current situation as trying to build a barn without a blue print. While Carter believes that technology was going to play a bigger role, the current climate has forced that change with little chance to prepare. Though he did say that technology and distance learning does not replace the one-on-one contact with teachers in the classroom.
One item he looks forward to at LCSD#7 is recruiting teachers to join the district. Rainier is a similar sized district about an hour west of Portland on the way to Astoria, and Carter made some changes on how he recruited teachers, especially new ones. One of those things was to create a mentor program for all incoming teachers, that would be together as one group getting mentoring from experienced teachers, allowing to build up a network for when they need help later.
“Mentoring is a huge deal and it is can be a great success for rural area, as it creates a bond within the group of teachers, but also with the larger community,” Carter said.
Carter did address the lawsuit that was filed against his former school district in 2017. While he could not go into specifics. He said that the only reason he was named in the lawsuit was that he was the superintendent, and that he and his wife, Dr. Laurie Kash, did nothing wrong. He noted that several of the allegations against him were false, and that he takes all claims of sexual misconduct seriously and are investigated thoroughly.
Carter has two grown children, a daughter who lives in Texas and a son who is a sheriff’s deputy in Shasta County, Calif. He looks forward to living in Lakeview, as he has traveled through the area before and has spent time hang gliding when he was on vacation.
Carter officially begins his new role on July 1.