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Gravon retiring from Central Point schools

More than 30 years after beginning his career at Central Point Elementary School, and seven years after taking the helm as superintendent in the same district, Randy Gravon has announced this school year will be his last.

"It is after a great deal of thought and with mixed emotions that I have determined it is time for me to retire," said Gravon, 61, in a letter to the Central Point School Board.

Gravon will finish the upcoming 2012-13 school year, and his retirement will be effective July 1, 2013.

"I was not really surprised to hear it, but I was very sad," said board member June Brock, who has served on the board for the entirety of Gravon's time as superintendent.

"We keep trying to get him to stay, but I guess it's his time to go," Brock said.

Brock said that Gravon was a hardworking employee and strong leader, who helped spearhead the project to turn Crater High School into four small schools in 2007. Budget cuts reduced the four schools to three in 2011.

"He's been a great leader, and stepped up to the plate," said Brock. "We're very sad to see him leave."

Brock said Gravon was able to revamp the financial department and bring a Chinese language program to the district.

"He's just been great to work with," she said.

Gravon began his teaching career as a special education teacher at Central Point elementary in 1975.

"I remember my first day driving by the school in the summer, thinking, 'I'm going to be a teacher,' " said Gravon. "That sense of wonderment and awe. It doesn't seem that long ago."

Gravon worked as a staff trainer for the Oregon Department of Education and supervisor of special programs in the Central Point School District in the early 1980s.

He was then principal of three Medford elementary schools between 1984 and 1996 before returning to Central Point as a director of personnel.

"It went by in a flash. It was so fast," said Gravon.

From there, he rose the ranks, becoming elementary education director for the district in 1999 and overseeing curriculum for all grades by 2003. In 2005, he was selected from a pool of 20 candidates to be the next superintendent.

"We faced many challenges together," Gravon wrote in his letter to the five-member board. "I believe because of your leadership as a board, District 6 is positioned to come roaring out of the recession."

After years of difficult budget cuts, Gravon says he is leaving the district on more level ground for his successor.

"I feel like I can leave without abandoning a sinking ship," said Gravon, who endured years of steep cuts, leading to eliminated programs and a school calendar that more than once lacked a full school year for students and teachers.

Despite the challenges, Gravon and the School Board have been praised over the years for their ability to work together, according to Cindy Tilley-Faubion, a board member who has served Central Point for nearly 20 years.

"We always get compliments about how well the board, employees and superintendent work together," said Tilley-Faubion. "We knew Randy was giving us everything he had every year."

Superintendents often stay with a district for only four or five years, according to Tilley-Faubion, who said she wasn't fully surprised at Gravon's announcement.

"He said he really thought it was time for someone to bring a fresh perspective," said Tilley-Faubion. "You have to change to grow."

Because Gravon began his career as a special education educator and worked his way up, he was able to relate well to other educators, she said.

"It gave him such a balance," said Tilley-Faubion, who believed Gravon will stay involved with the schools and the community even after retirement.

"There are people who continue to work to make a living and people who work because of the passion in their hearts, and Randy is the latter," she said.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.