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Nordbye leaves Parkrose a better place

After decades in the Parkrose School District and eight years as High School principal, Dr. Peter Nordbye retires leaving the school a better place


Dr. Peter Nordbye, retiring Parkrose High School Principal.
Landing in the Principals office at a brand new Parkrose High School amid district wide turmoil and major budget cuts did not faze Dr. Peter Nordbye. He simply rolled up his sleeves, faced the challenges head on and came up with a plan. Now looking toward his impending retirement he describes his most important contribution as restructuring of the decision making process at the school. By involving the teachers in everything from budgets to curriculums and staffing, Nordbye believes everyone then takes ownership of the plan and has a vested interest in its success.

One aspect of this new model is his design to establish four new academies of learning, or schools within the school. Aimed at launching long-term relationships between faculty and students, Nordbye sites the ability to create a niche for each student as a blueprint for success. “Students who feel connected, do better in school,” he said. By conducting multiple student surveys, faculty and staff have been able to design these new academies based on the interests of their students. In place are the Environment Sciences Academy and the Information Tech-nology Academy. To be added in the fall is a special ninth grade program designed to help junior high students transition to high school. Intended to assess a students strengths and weaknesses, the program will combine staff involvement with peer mentoring. Again, Nordbye stresses that until a student feels as though he belongs, he will not do well.

Hailing from Rapid City, South Dakota, Nordbye completed his undergraduate work in secondary education at Northern State College in Aberdeen, SD. From there he moved on to earn his Masters of Science in Elementary and Special Education from State University College at Buffalo, NY. He completed the formal aspect of his education by earning a Doctorate in Education Administration at the University of Oregon.

Early in his career, Nordbye held teaching positions in other areas of the country but decided at one point that he wanted to live in Seattle and sought a position there. After arriving in the Northwest, he happened to pass through Portland and decided he liked it better here. Moving to Portland without a job in, he sought and was selected to fill an available teaching slot at Sumner Elementary. In 1982 he moved to administration, accepting an Assistant Principal position. From 1985-1990 he served special education students at the High School. With his diverse educational background, Nordbye then moved to the Middle School as Principal from 1990-96. It was in 1996, mid-way through the year that he stepped into his current role. With the end of this school year, that chapter too, will come to a close. “Working with the students at Parkrose has certainly been the highlight of my career. Our diverse student body provides a richness that is experienced in only a few Oregon schools,” Nordbye observed recently, so it is apparent he leaves with mixed emotions.

Upon retirement, Nordbye says he will first take six months or so off to mull his options. After all, he notes, beginning with kindergarten back in South Dakota he has spent over five decades in school. He has considered writing a book about his experiences and will look at consulting options in conjunction with his wife, Blythe, a counselor.

Blythe Nordbye, a 1964 Parkrose High grad also began her career in education. In fact the pair met while working at the Middle School. They have two daughters currently in college, Sarah and Kate.

Even though Dr. Nordbye is moving on, he says he feels a great deal of ownership for the new programs he has established in is pleased with the choice the District has made to replace him. Roy Reynolds, of Molalla High School has a background and the academy type approach, brings many years of experience and knowledge to the position and Nordbye is confident he will do a great job.

Parkrose High School will lose a number of additional staff members to retirement this year as well. The retirees are: Assistant Principal Craig Jorgensen; Social Studies teacher and Model U.N. advisor David Cole; from the Attendance Office - Elizabeth Flint; Math teacher Patty Funes; Head Cook Donna Fisher; Media Assistant Gay Grunwald, Cook Diane Hager; Ceramics teacher Bill Hunt; Language Arts teacher and Yearbook advisor Paul Keating; Educational Assistant Mary Stine; Accounting teacher and careers advisor Dennis Worzniak. Good luck to all.
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