Dr. Gander attends to detail and his work ethic is robust. His qualifications, knowledge of Oregon Educational initiatives and law are exemplary…Prior to his arrival several initiatives had not been addressed so working with a knowledgeable and focused mentor that provided direction made the numerous state [and Federal] tasks and projects obtainable. His leadership has provided the District with a plan that will provide direction into the coming year.”

— Kim Maurer, Director, Federal Programs
Curriculum, Assessment, Santiam Canyon SD

Federal Programs

What I have learned from my work with various federal programs:

  • Providing effective supports for students requires leadership that understands how to access funds from a variety of state and federal sources to build resource networks that give schools every advantage they can muster.
  • Action planning models required by state and federal programs can be effective unifiers of schools planning system to meet all students academic needs.
  • Working with Title-I Targeted Assistance Schools it became clear that program evaluation tools gauging students’ academic growth required multiple measures by a skilled teacher to effectively determine if our program was serving students.
  • In small rural schools melding effective partnerships with outside organizations in conjunction with Small Rural School Achievement grants can greatly increase student opportunities with diverse secondary curriculum.

The variety of state and federally funded programs that support districts and specific schools have provided a wealth of learning. Whether it is writing a Title-I Targeted Assistance School plan or working with a bi-lingual advisor council for an elementary school, or implementing a class size reduction strategy; knowing how to use federal programs to serve student needs is critical to efficient school leadership. The ability to access homeless student funds or how to assure proper coding of students for balanced weighting in ADM counts are all critical skills for effective program administration. But most importantly they support families, often families who are experiencing some level of crisis in their lives.

Working in a variety of rural and urban schools in Oregon and California afforded me diverse opportunities to learn critical best practices of state and federal programs management. The opportunity in Dos Palos to organize Bryant Middle School Federal Programs “desktop audit” introduced me to the Federal program evaluation early on. Learning about the variety of evidence requirements in Title-I programs as well as Title VII and Title V were critical to my understanding of how schools work with state and federal education stakeholders to ensure students get equal access to programs.

These experiences led to my being asked to conduct Program Quality Reviews in the Los Banos SD, and while working with the Campbell Union SD. In each of these experiences I was able to meld my curriculum and federal program experiences to support teachers and students at the classroom level.

However my greatest level of experience is with Title-I programs in smaller districts. In two districts I worked with classroom teachers to reinstate these programs. Writing Title-I Targeted Assistance plans allowed us to access funds that the districts were not claiming, funds that were going back to the state and not serving our students.

In both cases these funds increased student opportunities with reading and math curriculum, giving them a better chance at success for years to come. As Title-I Targeted Assistance schools the action planning structure supported our teachers with both the incentive and the resources to improve their instructional practice.

As a Superintendent and Federal Programs Director I have had a variety of experiences using Small School Rural Achievement grants, State grants for technology implementation and writing grants for increased second language strategies teacher training. In each of theses instances I have effectively managed budgets, met growth reporting targets and most importantly increased student opportunities to learn the skills necessary to be lifelong learners.

What working with Federal Programs has brought out in my leadership skills:

  • Effective action plans need resources and incentives. Working with federal and state program requirements can bring those three elements together for a school. That synergy can improve learning for all, not just students who happen to qualify for the program.
  • I was able to use my grant writing skills linking current needs with researched based approaches to develop opportunities for students that increase their overall success in a variety of academic areas.
  • Closing the gap for all students’ means developing the resources for your staff to support students daily with consistent staffing and curriculum. The key is controlling the ratios of teachers to students so effective instruction can take place.