Reedsport grad is new schools chief in Salem

She started her new job as the superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District on July 1. Before that, she was superintendent of the Dallas, Ore., School District for 10 years.

And, back in her past, Christy Perry is a Reedsport graduate.

Of course, she was known as Christy Grassl back then.

“I graduated in 1984,” Grassl/Perry said. “I came back for Jim Akre’s funeral (Sept. 2013) and was taken on a tour of how the high school’s been renovated.”

After she graduated, Perry attended Western Oregon State College and University and Portland State University.

She started as a fifth/sixth grade teacher in the small Perrydale School District, taught in the Salem-Keizer School District and became superintendent in Dallas in 2005.

She decided to apply for the Salem-Keizer superintendent job, after that district’s board came up empty in a previous superintendent search.

Salem-Keizer is the second-largest district in the state, with more than 40,000 students.

She moved from a district, Dallas, that had 3,000 students.

When Salem-Keizer went back to square one in their search, Perry said she paid a little more attention to the district’s needs.

“So, I pulled up the flyer,” she said, “and I thought ‘oh, they’re looking for somebody with the skillset that I have.’ I thought, well, I hadn’t updated my resume in 10 years. I’ll update my resume. I’ll put myself out there and I’ll see where that lands me. I never went into it thinking I would or wouldn’t get the job. I had a job I loved. Part of the interview process I think, for me, was really understanding did they feel confident in me and did I feel confident in this new challenge.”

She is confident in her abilities.

“I think the benefit that I bring is that I understand district operations, top to bottom” Perry said. “I know what it’s like to create a facilities plan because I created that myself in Dallas. I know what it’s like to be a good communicator. I was a communications officer in Dallas. I think that gives the ability to lead the large organization.”

It’s a long way from Reedsport to being superintendent of a huge Oregon school district.

Perry says she has fond memories of Reedsport and the Tymchuk family, with whom she spent a lot of time. Keith Tymchuk, of course, is the current mayor of Reedsport. His brother, Kerry, was well known in political circles and is the now executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. Tom Tymchuk is the former mayor of the city and mom, Marlene, a teacher in the Reedsport district.

“The Tymchuks were a little bit … you can almost think of them more as cousins for second mom and dad,” Perry remembered. “I really considered Tom and Marlene as second parents to me. They were pretty instrumental in my life.”

In fact, Perry used to help Marlene, Oregon’s Teacher of the Year in 1980, set up her classroom during the summer.

“It’s odd,” Perry says. “I don’t remember why, other than I think she called me up and said ‘hey, I’m going to work on my classroom. Do you want to come help?’ I always said ‘yes.’”

Perry’s father, George, passed away in 1991. The Grassl family ran the Fir Grove Motel in Reedsport. Her mom now lives in Albany.

“I was raised to believe you can do anything,” she said. “You just have to put your mind to it.”

Perry was reminded that Reedsport will be looking for a full-time superintendent next year.

“Actually, every time it comes up I think about it,” she says. “I think it’s like the perfect job as you near retirement … when you get to ‘OK, I’m done being a big city superintendent. We’re going to go retire and live at the lake.’”

The 0.6 FTE Reedsport job will pay about $60,000. Perry will earn an annual salary of $189,000 as the full-time superintendent in Salem-Keizer.

Perry is a still regular back in the area. She, and her family, regularly visit Mercer Lake and their daughter has recently moved to Coos Bay.

“We’re traveling through quite often,” she said.

The Umpqua Post
by Steve Lindsley

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