The community met the last man standing so to speak in the Brookings-Harbor School District superintendent search on Feb. 18.
David Marshall answered 17 community-generated questions from the nearly 30 people inside the library of Azalea Middle School in Brookings. Current school board members, district teachers and students and members of the community attended the event.
Steve Kelley, Director of Board Development for the Oregon School Boards Association, was the emcee of the forum that took 40 minutes.
The district invited three finalists to meet with the community, but two withdrew from the process.
Marshall is excited to still be in the mix for the Brookings-Harbor superintendent position. He was professionally dressed.
“From my lens, I certainly feel excited,” Marshall said. “This is a good fit professionally. This is a good fit personally. I would really like to be a part of this community and to help the district move on to its next steps.”
He is currently the assistant superintendent/human resources director at Hermiston School District in Hermiston in Eastern Oregon.
He has 12 years of administrative experience in education including seven years as an assistant superintendent and student services director in the Milton-Freewater school system, also located in Eastern Oregon. His education specialist’s degree was earned from Lewis and Clark College.
Marshall was born in New York, NY, and grew up in Maryland and Seattle. He went to college in Walla Walla, Wash. He is married and has an adult daughter, who is looking forward to visiting dad and mom at the beach.
“The pressure is on," Marshall said. “She is all in favor of this. She really likes the idea of visiting us at the beach.”
His first teaching job was in Milton-Freewater School District, a district with 1,600 students — roughly the same size as Brookings-Harbor.
“Spent a lot of time, over 20 years, in that school district. Started as an elementary teacher, taught third grade, was the librarian there, and also taught elementary computers,” Marshall said. “Also taught CTE classes at the high school — computer tech classes, web design that sort of thing.”
From there he transitioned to administration and was an elementary school principal, before directing the ELL program, the special education program, and human resources.
Three years ago, he went to the Hermiston School District as their human resources director and then was promoted to assistant superintendent-human resources.
“That was an interesting experience because it is about three times the size of this school district, about 6,000 kids,” Marshall said. “Through my time there I found I wanted to get back to a smaller community, a smaller setting. I really wanted to expand and get back to doing more than focusing on human resources.”
Before the forum, Marshall spent the day visiting Brookings-Harbor School District campuses, where he “saw some really cool stuff.”
The 17 questions from the community hit on all of the expected areas from student safety, to leadership style, to teacher retention, and so on.
When asked about safety, he said it was important and he liked that the district has a resource officer.
“I think that is a real positive step that this district was able to take because that person can play a key role in improving the safety, being a connection that can really help things from escalating, making the connection with the students, that sort of thing,” Marshall said.
He knows that pay is important to retaining quality teachers, but added that keeping them engaged is also key.
“I think staff engagement is very important as well,” he said. “Giving them opportunities for professional growth and development and giving them as much a say as possible in the process. There is a fair amount of research that is saying those are even potentially more important than the pay is.”
Throughout his time, Marshall made it clear he wanted to be in Brookings for a while, or at least as long as he was effective.
“Location-wise this is a place where we would really like to be,” he said. “And certainly my goal professionally was I want to stay as long as I am effective. Obviously, there is no set number of years, but I tend to really commit to things and I feel you are more effective the more connected you are with the community. I don’t view this as a stepping stone, other than my goal right now is to become the superintendent and then to be an effective superintendent that has a positive impact on the district and the community.”
After the question-and-answer portion, Kelley asked people to provide feedback via a two-question survey that would go to the school board. The next steps, Kelley said, were that the district could begin contract negotiations with Marshall or move on from him and restart the superintendent search.