West Linn welcomes new primary principal
Kate Donegan's goal is to serve the entire community, leaving no students behind, and that's what she plans to do as Trillium Creek Primary's new principal.
Donegan, who's been with Trillium since the school opened its doors seven years ago, wants to use her knowledge of the school and her relationship with its community to move it forward.
"Teachers always want to get better at their craft; they always want to get better at serving their students, so because I know right where we are, I'm able to maintain that momentum and keep moving forward in that work," Donegan said.
Donegan has been involved with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District for the last 13 years, first as a English language development teacher and reading specialist at Boeckman Creek Primary and then as an instructional coordinator (IC) at Trillium.
"The district has invested the trainings in me — all the opportunity to learn — so at some point, once you've had the opportunity and you've gained those skills, you almost feel obligated to give back and serve the community," Donegan said.
Donegan remembers studying the relationship between students and teachers as a child but doesn't recall an exact turning point when she wanted to become an educator.
Donegan graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia with her bachelor's degree in elementary and special education — a dual certificate that was required by the school to be a licensed teacher.
"That was the philosophy that really drew me to that university and it has really shaped my career," she said.
Before Donegan went to college to earn her education degree, she got a taste of working with adults with disabilities. She worked at a deli during her summers home from college. Her boss at the deli wanted an inclusive work environment so Donegan often worked with employees that had disabilities, so when she attended school to do her student teaching, she had an affinity for working with disabled students.
"My first job, I made them guarantee me that I would be placed in a special education classroom," she said, adding that she worked as a special education teacher in the San Bernardino Unified School District before coming to Oregon to work in Salem-Keiser, North Marion, North Clackamas and finally the WL-WV School District.
"All the dominos fell in place for me — livin' the dream you know," she said. "(It's) not the same dream for everyone, but this is living the dream (for me)."
As an English language development teacher, Donegan made sure students could access educational opportunities without their language limiting their understanding of the content. As a reading specialist, she worked with at-risk readers and helped strengthen classroom instruction so every student could benefit during classroom time. As an IC she expanded her leadership opportunities.
"The key piece is that you're trying to make sure there is strong instruction and strong learning for every student and you do that by supporting curriculum, supporting teachers, lesson planning and delivery. You also support the programs in your schools," Donegan said. "The best part of that role is you're working with every teacher, every student, every family and that's the part I loved most."
Donegan credits her predecessors Charlotte Morris — who opened the school — and Jim Mangan, the previous principal who recently took a job in Hood River. Donegan said she valued their perspectives and is grateful to have learned from the last two principals.
"Kids are amazing. They just come to you full of potential; full of new ideas; full of new ways of thinking about things," she said. "For me, it's really enjoyable to spend my time with kids. I (also) found over the years I like working with adults. I like working with people when they're working in teams to accomplish something."
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