School Board Names Four Candidates as Finalists for Superintendent

The Pendleton School District Board of Directors is pleased to announce that four candidates have been selected for further consideration to be the next Superintendent beginning July 1, 2017. The Board and a screening committee of staff and community members thoroughly reviewed an applicant field of 21 candidates, and the board conducted initial interviews with several of them.

The four finalists selected for further consideration are:

Aaron D. Chavez
Chavez has been the Superintendent at Wahluke School District in Wahluke, WA since 2010. The district has 2,450 students. Before Wahluke, he was superintendent at Brewster School District (1000 students) for three years and superintendent/principal at Almira School District (100 students) for two years. Both districts are in Washington state. Chavez spent six years in the classroom as a teacher before becoming an administrator. He has a Master of Arts degree in Administration from Heritage University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Eastern Washington University.

Christopher J. Fritsch
Fritsch has been the assistant superintendent at Longview School District (6,500 students) in Longview, WA for the last six years. He was also executive director of leadership & learning for three years and high school principal for six years in Longview School District. Before becoming an administrator, Fritsch was a social studies teacher for 15 years.   During his tenure as a high school teacher, he also served as head football coach and head wrestling coach. Fritsch has a Master of Arts in School Administration from Portland State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Legal Studies from Pacific Lutheran University.

James T. Stroder
Since 2012, Stroder has been superintendent of Gardiner School District in Gardiner, MT with an enrollment of 250 students. In four of the last five years, Gardiner has been recognized as the number one school district in Montana. Stroder’s previous administrative experience includes three years as superintendent at Ingram ISD (1,100 students) in Texas and five years as superintendent/principal at Camas County School District (about 250 students) in Idaho. His teaching experience includes five years in a self-contained classroom for at-risk students. Stroder has an Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership from the University of Idaho and both a Bachelor of Science in Earth Science and a Master’s of Science in Education from Baylor University.  He is working toward completion of a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Montana State University.

James M. Wagner
For the last three years, Wagner has been the superintendent at Kimball Area Schools in Kimball, MN with an enrollment of 800 students. Before becoming a superintendent, he was a high school principal in the Albert Lea School District in Minnesota (3,200 students). Wagner also served five years in other building leadership positions in Minnesota. His teaching experience includes nine years as a science teacher in grades 7-12. He has an Education Specialist degree for his superintendent certification from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s degree in Education Curriculum from St. Scholastica College.

The Pendleton School Board will now begin thorough background and reference checks for each of these finalist candidates and introduce the finalists to the district to meet with staff and community on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The exact times of that day’s schedule will be announced shortly. The board will conduct a second interview with each candidate in executive session to finish the visits and expects to announce the next steps in the Superintendent search in early May.

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