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Long-time educator, administrator retires

Closing the book on a 33-year education career in Southern Oregon, retiring Medford schools administrator Rich Miles will be honored during a public reception this week.

Beginning his career as a teacher in Central Point, Miles was a principal in the Medford School District for 15 years before taking his current position as director of elementary education in 2005.

Colleagues, friends and community members are invited to attend the ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the District Board Room, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

When Miles became a district administrator, he used his skills as a long-time principal to improve communication between the district and community, according to Phil Long, Medford schools superintendent.

"He was fresh out of the school after being a principal," said Long. "He really understood the types of things that were happening at the building level and was able to keep the focus on students."

Over their last seven years together, Long said Miles was able to improve communication between parents and school staff, despite years of budget reductions and cuts.

"In the face of all these reductions, he's been able to make improvements," said Long, adding that Miles has formalized rules and procedures of principals, essentially creating a principal guidebook.

Long said that Miles had planned to retire a year earlier, but extended his career to help facilitate a smooth transition for five new elementary principals hired last year.

"He was a great guy to work with," said board member Sally Killen, who worked with Rich in a number of capacities during her 20 years as a Medford principal, and during her current role as board member. "You could always trust his judgment," said Killen, who remembers hearing glowing reviews of Miles from parents while living near Lone Pine Elementary school.

"That's always a good thing," said Killen. "Parents are always very concerned and protective of their kids."

Killen later worked with Miles while she was the grievance chair for the Medford Education Association, the union for district teachers.

Killen said Rich was always professional and maintained solid relationships with his teachers while he was a principal, both at Lone Pine and Jacksonville Elementary.

"He was very proficient and very humane with how he worked with his staff," said Killen.

Since becoming director of elementary education and student services in 2005, Miles left an impression on the countless parents and patrons he encountered, according to Long.

Miles served as the district's liaison for the two public charter schools opened over the past six years.

Killen said Miles worked closely with the state and the schools — Madrone Trail which opened in 2007, and Logos which opened in 2010 — to make sure the district was supporting successful programs.

"He was so professional, and a wonderful resource," said Killen.

Both schools have seen measurable success, increasing enrollment and expanding operations each year.

Miles also worked as a supervisor for the district's music program for the past seven years, and was a regular attendee of school music programs over the years.

Miles also served as a member of the district's 2006 bond measure projects team, generating $189 million to upgrade or replace all 14 of the district's schools. He worked to facilitate meetings with school staff and project architects to generate designs for many of the schools.

Miles' position will be filled by Julie Evans, a veteran teacher, dean and eventually principal in the district.

Most recently, Evans has been principal of Oak Grove Elementary, a position she has held since 2004. "We all feel very positive about Julie Evans," said Killen. "She will grow into the expertise quickly. She has a very fast learning curve."

Evans said she first met Miles as the principal of her own children at Lone Pine many years ago, and always admired his connection to the teachers and students he worked with.

"The children really looked up to him," said Evans. "He's really helped support the students and the teachers in the district.

"He knows the district really well," said Evans. "They're big shoes to fill."

Long said that given Miles' various roles with the district and the community, he expects many people will want to thank Miles for the work done for the students in Medford.

"A lot of people in this town know Rich," said Long. "In a challenging time, it's nice to be able to pause and acknowledge someone who has worked so hard."