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HRCSD names Jim Donnelly as Hood River Valley High School assistant principal

The Hood River County School District (HRCSD) Board of Education appointed Jim Donnelly as assistant principal of Hood River Valley High School (HRVHS) on Wednesday, July 13, in its meeting.

Donnelly served as an instructional coach for the 2021-22 school year and is the summer school director at HRVHS. Before assuming these roles, he taught student success and English classes at HRVHS for five years. Prior to joining HRCSD, Donnelly taught with the Dufur School District. In addition to teaching, Donnelly has also coached middle school and high school wrestling and served as a club advisor, talented and gifted coordinator, and building  technology coach. Donnelly was last year’s regional teacher of the year for the Columbia Gorge.

“Jim knows the high school and Hood River communities well, and he has developed relationships with staff and students by learning about them and elevating their voices in important conversations,” Superintendent Rich Polkinghorn said. “His background as a teacher and instructional coach along with his strong communication skills are a great match for HRVHS and important qualities for the assistant principal.”

Having worked at HRVHS for 13 years as a teacher and coach, Donnelly says HRVHS is a special place for students and staff. After a challenging past two years, he said he sees a lot of positive opportunities on the horizon and looks forward to being a part of the leadership team. Donnelly said everyone has their toolbox of strengths and ways they are trying to improve. 

“The key is to always be a learner, look for ways to contribute, and find ways to appreciate the contribution of others,” Donnelly said. “I love that at school all of us – students, staff, and administrators – are here learning together.” 

Donnelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oregon State University (Corvallis, Ore.). He earned a Master of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa). After some years in the workforce, Donnelly pursued and earned a Master of Arts in education from University of Phoenix (Ariz.). This spring, he completed the principal licensure program at George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.). 

Donnelly grew up in Parkdale, Ore., where his parents and grandparents have farmed for many years. He attended Parkdale Elementary School, Wy’east Middle School, and Hood River Valley High School. Donnelly’s son, James, is going into 11th grade at Hood River Valley High School and his daughter, Meg, is going into 9th grade. When he is not driving his children to various activities, he is an avid amateur chess player. He also enjoys walking with their two labrador retrievers on old logging roads in the surrounding foothills. Donnelly’s sisters also work in education (Holly Lavoie, instructional coach at Parkdale Elementary School; Ali Donnelly, school nurse administrator at Columbia Gorge Education Service District). 

“I am an advocate for our students at Hood River Valley High School and want each of them to have every opportunity to find success and grow,” Donnelly said. “We are a community at the high school and each of us has a valuable contribution to make. Everyone is different, but we all belong.”

Donnelly said he has tremendous respect for the HRVHS team and believes it lives the school district’s vision of providing excellence for all students every day. He said he is grateful to be a part of this vision, supporting students and staff as the high school assistant principal.