PSU College of Education alumnus named Oregon Superintendent of the Year
Author: Jillian Daley
Posted: September 24, 2019
A Portland State University alumnus with a 30-year career in education has earned the distinction of 2020 Oregon Superintendent of the Year.

Eugene School District Superintendent Gustavo Balderas—who received his master’s degree from the College of Education (COE)—learned this month that he had received the award from the Oregon Association of School Executives and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.

“The award came as a surprise, and an emotional one, to receive such recognition among all of the (197) school districts and district leaders doing great work across Oregon,” Balderas said.

He will be honored at upcoming events, including the Oregon School Boards Association’s annual conference this November in Portland. Also, he is now in the running for  American Association of School Administrators’ National Superintendent of the Year Award.

Balderas, the child of migrant farm workers in Nyssa, Ore., earned a bachelor’s in education from Western Oregon University; master’s in educational, instructional and curriculum supervision from PSU; and doctorate in education leadership from the University of Oregon.  

Balderas said that this honor may be in his name, but it is truly one for his school district team and the community, both of which are “committed to doing what's best for kids — every kid.”

He has not only fought for each student, but has taken a stand on equity issues in his district since becoming its leader in 2015.

“We strive to foster diversity and inclusiveness in our schools, and we apply an equity lens to every decision we make in Eugene,” Balderas said. “Everything we do is to support our students to succeed in school and beyond.”

Almost 40 percent of school principals and 30 percent of all administrators in his school district are people of color, which is a much higher percentage than any other district in the state, said Rob Hess, a school district administrator in Eugene.

“Dr. Gustavo Balderas exemplifies excellence in education, with student-centered leadership and a focus on fostering diversity, equity and inclusion,” COE Dean Marvin Lynn said.

Balderas said the relationships he built at the COE shaped his life; he plans to pass on that gift.

“I was mentored by people I could count on, people who believed in me, and I try to mentor others the same way,” he said. “I believe we all have an obligation to help raise up the next generation of educators, to improve education in Oregon.”

Photo: Eugene School District Superintendent Gustavo Balderas said that in his district, he strives for equity and is committed to doing what's best for every student. Photo is courtesy of the Eugene School District.

To share stories with the College of Education, contact Jillian Daley.