Gilson named as WSD superintendent
Author: Justin Much
Posted: March 9, 2020

To read the original, visit the Woodburn Independent.

During a special meeting with a one-item agenda, Woodburn School District Board named Oscar Moreno Gilson as its next superintendent of schools.

Gilson, who currently serves as the Area Senior Director of Comprehensive Support and Improvement in the Portland School District, will assume the WSD superintendent role on July 1.

The board voted unanimously to hire him.

"His knowledge background, skills and abilities, we felt, met the qualifications we were seeking as someone to lead the schools in this community," Board Chair Linda Reeves said.

Gilson, who was accompanied at the meeting by extended family members, including his wife, two sons, mother, sister, brother and sister in law and their son, presented a charismatic, upbeat presense as he addressed attendees at the meeting.

"I want to thank you for this incredible opportunity," he said. "We first met in August, and I have been following your work through (electronic media). I am very, very excited to be here today."

The district received 13 applicants for the position and narrowed it down to four on Feb. 22. One of those candidates withdrew from the pool, and the other three visited are schools on March 2. Gilson subsequently worked out a contract with WSD before being officially announces and signing the contract on Thursday.

He saluted his family members, especially his mother, Mago, whom he lauded for her toughness and mentorship throughout his endeavors.

He also described his humble beginnings.

"I knew about the Woodburn community ever since I came to the United States at age 14, but I never dreamed of coming in here to lead the schools," Gilson said.

He said when his family quizzed him about the long hours that the job entails. He said it is an honor to have such a charge, especially in light of the fact that 20 years ago he worked pumping gas.

"Public education is a great equalizer, and there is no better way to help kids (take advantage of it) than by being a superintendent," he said. "I'm blessed, I'm excited, and I'm looking forward to building a relationship with this community."

Reeves described Gilson as an educator of 22 years who is committed to closing the opportunity gap. She also noted that during interviews and visits to the district, he demonstrated a passion for student learning and an approachable nature to all he met.

"We were impressed with the holistic work experiences Oscar Gilson has had with student populations matching ours, including working with Latinx, Russian and Anglo students who are underperforming: his practices implementing culturally responsive interventions, his problem-solving ability, and overall instructional leadership," Reeves said.

"Mr. Gilson understands the importance of collaboration with staff, students and their families around expectations and opportunities for increasing student achievement," she added. "We see Oscar as a role model to youth in Woodburn, and as a focused, inspiring leader who will view our educational enterprise through a social-justice lens, building trust with staff, families and the community."

Prior to his current admistrative role with Portland School District, Gilson has served that district as a K-8 principal and middle college director, and he served as a principal in the Corvallis School District.

Gilson received a master's in education from Portland State University in 2000, where he also earned a continuing administrator license a decade later. He has an ESOL bilingual endorsement from Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

Bill Rhoades is currently leading the Woodburn School District as interim superintendent, having taken on that task in June when long-serving superintendent Chuck Ransom retired.