Dawn Granger takes on position as superintendent

By Audrey Webster | Reporter

Dawn Granger is the new leader of a district steeped in massive changes and challenges. Granger took the helm as the Coos Bay School District Superintendent on July 1 and is optimistic about the future of the district and her role in its success.

“I took the position to make positive changes,” Granger said.

Granger comes to the district with a great deal of education and experience. She started her education at Monrovia High School and has attended CalPoly Pomona, Chapman University and the University of Oregon. After moving to Oregon, Granger began working as a teacher in many different areas of education. She also worked as a principal in Corvallis, but realized the position did not allow her to make the positive changes she wanted to make district-wide. The opening in Coos Bay provided that opportunity.

“There is a limit to how much a principal can change,” Granger said.

Granger gathered information about the community, said she knew of Marshfield’s good reputation, recognized the school board had clear goals to achieve and decided to apply for the position.

As superintendent, Granger has several goals she hopes to achieve, beginning with improving student’s test scores to raising the graduation rate and wanting to help students prepare for college by adding more Advanced Placement classes.

Principal Greg Mulkey believes Granger is a great addition to the district.

“She came in with a wonderful attitude, wanting to build trust with the community and staff,” Mulkey said.

Granger was hired just after the district underwent two significant changes last spring. Prior to her arrival, the school board voted to move from a traditional five-day week to a four-day week, which was a huge change for students and staff. According to Granger, a shorter week has potential as it gives teachers time to help students who may need a little extra help in the classroom.

Another major change was moving the district’s eighth grade students from a middle school setting to Marshfield, but Granger sees positive aspects of this change as well. She hopes the eighth graders will be better accustomed to the changes of transferring from middle school to high school by being in the setting a year earlier.

“Hopefully the eighth graders will overcome their fear of ninth grade by being at the high school,” Granger said.

Other changes staff and students are facing at MHS include decreasing enrollment and new state requirements. According to science teacher Cathy Danielson, teachers have had to rework their lesson plans to accommodate for new material, the science, math and English departments in particular. Danielson said Granger has tried to provide information and support regarding these changes.

“She came into a district that has just undergone major changes,” Danielson said. “She has a positive attitude and is willing to work with these new changes.”

Granger has also strived to be very visible throughout the community and especially in the schools. On average, Granger said she spends 10 hours a week visiting classrooms. Thus far she has worked for three days as the principal of Blossom Gulch Elementary School, where she spent lunch time swinging on the swings and running on the track with students. She also regularly attends open houses, assemblies and sporting events and is very involved in the community, participating in local groups and activities.

“She has so much enthusiasm,” Mulkey said.

Granger is optimistic not only about the future of the district she has committed to serving, but appreciates the community as a whole. She said living near the coast is something she always wanted to do after her children graduated and moved on to college. She loves the beach and while she is not working, she spends her time walking her dogs, camping and visiting the downtown Wednesday market. She said Coos Bay has given her the opportunity to participate in activities she has never done before such as crabbing, visiting the slough and swimming farther out in the ocean than she ever has before. Granger believes it is hard for someone who has lived here their whole life to really see the beauty in the area.

“I love the community and the kids are so nice,” Granger said. “This is the life I always wanted.”