D303 completes their search and hires new superintendent


Screenshot by Serena Thakkar

Gordon’s “Message to D303” is located on the District’s website. In the video, he shares information about himself, his values, and why he chose D303.

Serena Thakkar, Features Editor

Effective July 1, 2022, Dr. Paul Gordon will serve as the next superintendent for District 303. According to the District’s website, the role of the superintendent includes executing School Board policies, developing ideas on how the District can achieve its goals, and serving as the District’s main representative to the community. 

Gordon is currently concluding his third year as Superintendent of Wenatchee School District 246 in Washington. Previously, he served as Glen Ellyn School District 41’s superintendent, as well as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of professional development, and chief academic officer in the Adams 12 Five Star School District in Colorado. 

In his “Message to the District,” Gordon states that his values center around relationships, integrity, and communication. “In education, relationships are the foundation that connects students with our staff members. Relationships must be in place before academic excellence can be achieved,” said Gordon.

Gordon explained that the reason he publicly states his values is so he can be held accountable. “We must create open, honest conversations…and offer the opportunity to hear different perspectives, so we can build those trusting relationships that will benefit each student,” he said.

Throughout his first year in D303, his main goal consists of getting to know D303’s students, teachers, and parents. 

“I am a strong advocate of hearing the stories and the voices of our students, and how education is impacting them-  in a positive manner and for some in a negative way,” Gordon said. 

He touched on a large difference he and his children experienced in their previous move from a top performing Colorado to Illinois high school, Wheaton Warrenville South. “What we were blown away with was this pressure for our kids to go to an Ivy League or a Big Ten school,” said Gordon. From a parent’s perspective, he explained how his kids would come home feeling this immense pressure, which they never experienced in Colorado. 

However, his daughter’s school counselor quickly became her trusted adult and told her “‘You need to figure this out for yourself. You need to find that pathway that works for you, not for your ten friends,'” said Gordon.

“Our work in D303 is that our students have those trusted adults to be able to have those conversations,” he said. It’s important to ensure “that each of our kids are connected and belong to our school, and they see real value and worth in themselves.”

In a survey sent out to East’s teachers, many educators echoed Gordon’s emphasis on leadership’s involvement. When teachers were asked how they would describe the ideal superintendent, a strong communicator, listener, and involved individual were frequent characteristics stated. Responses included “supportive and present,” “involved and visible in the buildings,” “sincere, good listener, high integrity,” and “invested in both the students and the teachers.” 

Out of the 33 responses, 66.7% of respondents are optimistic of the new superintendent, 24.2% are neutral, and 9.1% are skeptical. Many teachers indicated their welcoming attitude towards Gordon, stating “I wish him the best in his new mission” and “I’m hoping this new superintendent brings a fresh start that helps turn things around in our district.” 

 “People need to see you…you need to hear the stories of students, staff, and parents,” said Gordon. The results of his involvement? “When I walk into schools, kids know me.”

Along with ensuring that students and educators feel heard, Gordon emphasized the importance of parent involvement. However, he noted that conversations are much more productive when they’re not polarized and anger driven. 

“We call them community conversations.” Gordon said. “We had a topic on equity three weeks ago, where we invited community members to come in and we set the table around three big, bold questions.”

During these conversations community members are talking with each other while board members and the superintendent are listening. “We didn’t have a big fight over equity. We started understanding what equity really meant for our students,” said Gordon.

In order to have these discussions, Gordon explained how it’s essential that these often polarizing topics are defined, rather than allowing the national narrative to dictate assumptions. He explained what this would look like in regards to equity. 

“‘Equity is about ensuring that each student gets what they need?’ I said that’s what we’re talking about,” recalled Gordon. “Then we give examples. So if everything were equal, nobody would get AP courses. Nobody would get special education because everybody’s going to get the same exact thing. That’s not what each kid needs,” he said. 

Gordon’s message to those who feel voiceless? “I’m gonna hear you. I’m gonna spend the time hearing our students, staff, and community. I really am.”


X-Ray’s Teacher Poll: “Based on your current knowledge, what are your thoughts on Dr. Paul Gordon becoming the new superintendent?”