PHOENIX — Superintendent Teresa Sayre will retire as leader of the Phoenix-Talent School District on June 30, but she will stay on in the same position for another year under a retiree re-employment program.
“Having spent 30 years in one area, I just feel like it’s time to do something else. I'm just shifting gears,” said Sayre.
“I think she has done an amazing job," said Nate Shinn, a School Board member who has served for 14 years total. "She’s been with the district for a long time in all capacities.
“She has built a culture that works well for the district,” Shinn said. “I think the cohesiveness of the district, from the students to the staff to the board, is probably the strongest it has ever been. She knows her stuff.”
A couple of upcoming retirements in senior positions and new initiatives underway prompted Sayre to stay on through June 30, 2017. She said she wants to help with the personnel transitions and see new programs firmly established. Phoenix High School Principal Jani Hale and high school Registrar Sandy Neal will retire at the end of the school year.
Among programs in development is a state-funded Collaboration Grant now in its second year. The grant involves professional development for teachers, educational leadership team development, looking at alternative compensation and in-district training.
Phoenix-Talent is also one of seven districts in the state selected to participate in a study of how adverse childhood experiences affect learning.
Several initiatives look at behavior problems within the school system. The district has not expelled a student in the last two years, said Sayre. The high school has started a restorative justice program in which students who misbehave are given a chance to share their side of the story, learn how their actions affected others, then take responsibility for those actions.
“It’s a way we are trying to shift … from a punishing model to an instructive model,” said Sayre.
Sayre does plan to continue serving on local boards. Her appointments include Southern Oregon University’s board of trustees, La Clinica's board, the Teresa McCormick Center board and Rogue Workforce Partnership board.
“I like doing service to the community," she said. "I anticipate helping others in the education community wherever my service might be of value."
Once she quits working, she plans to travel with her husband, Joe, who retired three years ago.
Sayre was hired as assistant principal of Talent Middle School in 1998. Four years later, she became principal of Talent Elementary, a position she held for five years. She then joined the district administration as director of instructional services. In 2013 she became superintendent, succeeding Ben Bergreen. Sayre had been a teacher at Crater High School and Ashland High School and an administrator in Ashland prior to 1998.
This year two retiring employees, including Sayre, have chosen the rehire program, said District Financial Director Cally McKenzie. Numbers vary annually, especially if there are changes to Public Employee Retirement System regulations, she said. There were seven rehires last year, six in 2013 and two in 2012.
“Financially, it makes sense for us. It saves us approximately 18 percent of employee costs, so that is fairly substantial,” said McKenzie. The employees get sick leave and retain their insurance benefits.
Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.