Andre has lived in Portland all his life. He graduated from Concordia University and now is thankful to be living in his favorite city, raising kids with his parents right next door.
In his seventh year as the Assistant Principal at Parkrose High school, Andre helps students at a critical age make important decisions about their future. “I can’t believe it,” Andre joked. “I always thought I would stay at middle school and die there. But high school is where I probably think I will die.”
How did you become interested in education and administration?
“I started out wanting to be a math guy. Math was my favorite subject growing up. It used to break my heart how many times I heard that kids hated math. I started out just wanting to help kids and families with math and overcoming that phobia, especially in the black community. My first teaching experience was a horrible experience. I had a horrible principal… So, I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to be an administrator – and be one that would help teachers develop the craft and be in this career for a long time. Also, to support kids as well – to cultivate the learning and education in the school environment.”
Tell us about your career path.
“I taught math for four years, and right after that I took the fast track to be an administrator. I got my first administration job at 26 – I was a vice principal at a middle school. Unbeknownst to me and the rest of the staff, that summer the principal left and I had to take over the building at age 27. I was thrown into the fire and had to learn on the spot. We were able to make some good changes at the school I was at. It was a good uplifting thing for the community. The student body was 90% African American. They were told often that they couldn’t learn, but we changed the trajectory for a lot of students.
From there I came to Parkrose. I love working with students at this age where they are making that transition into adulthood and working out what the next step in their life is. I think that’s my real passion right now – trying to help students find ways to progress beyond high school and find out what they want to be in their adult years.”
What inspired you to get involved with PWA?
“We’re on the same wavelength – trying to find alternatives for students that didn’t find school as their forte – but wanted a hands-on approach with learning and opportunities. That really drew me to PWA. We’re able to provide opportunities to students with construction, engineering, and different fields that we don’t have at Parkrose High School. Really using PWA as a supplement to help our students.
It turned into a great partnership that our whole district is thankful for these last [several] years. We’re getting our students out into the workforce. This year, we’re really looking to build on those relationships, especially in this new normal and our virtual setting – finding ways to be hands-on in this non-traditional environment.”