MEDFORD, Ore. — After a search process that lasted several months, the Medford School District (MSD) has chosen a superintendent candidate to replace Dr. Brian Shumate when he leaves on the first of July.
The position has been offered to Dr. Bret Champion, erstwhile superintendent for the 54,000-student Klein Independent School District (KISD) in the outskirts of Houston, Texas. Champion has led the district since July of 2016.
“Dr. Champion is a great fit for Medford,” said MSD Board Chair Cynthia Wright. “His skills as a communicator and collaborator, his experience with innovation and pathways, his focus on every child succeeding, and his work with large financial budgets all uniquely qualify him as the candidate of choice.”
Dr. Champion has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston, a Master of Education from Texas State University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Texas. Prior to his tenure at Klein, Champion served as superintendent for the Leander ISD near Austin, Texas over a period of eight years.
In all, Dr. Champion has some 28 years of experience in public education — beginning as a teacher before becoming a principal, then assistant superintendent before his tenure as superintendent of Leander.
“I am a big believer in the opportunity that our public schools provide for our students. Public schools are our nation’s great equalizer. As we work toward bringing equity to our state and nation, public schools are leading the way in that work,” said Dr. Champion. “One of the things that’s intriguing about Medford is how many great things are already happening here in the areas of preparing students for their next steps. There is so much in place to ensure students leave with every option available to them and I am excited to get to know the people doing that work, the students who are part of that work, and the community embracing that work.”
MSD's superintendent heir-apparent is in no way leaving Klein due to any lack of appreciation for his skills there — he recently signed a contract extension offered by the district. However, Dr. Champion said that he sees himself as a learner, and realized that he could learn more by leaving Texas.
During a recent visit to Southern Oregon, Champion and his wife found themselves at Crater Lake. He told NewsWatch 12 that he quickly fell in love with the area and its beautiful surroundings.
According to MSD, Dr. Champion has said that he plans to spend his first several months on the job engaging with staff, students, families and community members by listening and learning about the systems already in place.
“I’m interested in looking at the great things that are happening and looking at where we have some opportunities to grow and improve,” Dr. Champion said. “I look forward to collaborating with the entire community to ensure that all students find and embrace their pathways to success.”
Champion sees himself as an instigator of conversation, and he hopes to hear from everyone about what they think students need to succeed, then take action from there.
“Some people may not like what we choose, but everyone’s voice will be heard," Dr. Champion said.
Dr. Champion said that he is firmly aligned with the Pathways program that MSD launched in 2016. Rather than coming into Medford with a plan to make sweeping changes, Champion told NewsWatch 12 that he intends to build on the great things that the MSD is already doing.
The search for a new superintendent began in March following Dr. Shumate's announcement that he would be leaving. The MSD Board voted to approve Champion's contract at its meeting on Tuesday night, with his first contracted day set for July 1.
Current superintendent Dr. Shumate leaves the District at the end of June. He has said that he is leaving Medford, in large part, so that he can be closer to his family in Kentucky. Shumate accepted a position at Troup County Schools in Georgia.
Click here to see the full interview with NewsWatch 12's Brian Morton and Dr. Bret Champion.