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HRCSD appoints Joe Kelly as Hood River Options Academy interim principal

The Hood River County School District (HRCSD) Board of Directors voted to appoint Joe Kelly as the Hood River Options Academy (HROA) interim principal on Wednesday, Aug. 15, in its meeting. Kelly replaces Kelly Running who was appointed as the director of special education for HRCSD in July.

HROA provides an alternative, online learning program for students. 

“I am impressed with Joe’s leadership abilities, dedication, and passion for education,” said Superintendent Bill Newton. “Joe is focused on building meaningful relationships with staff, students, families, and our community.”

Newton said Kelly has an understanding of educational policies and practices, a commitment to fostering a positive learning environment, and an unwavering dedication to the success of students and staff. 

“I am proud to serve along with the many educators in HRCSD who educated, coached, counseled, and supported my two daughters through their entire careers here,” said Joe Kelly. “I have worked with young people in the Columbia Gorge area for 30 years as a coach, teacher, and community volunteer.”

Kelly taught life science at Hood River Valley High School (HRVHS) for 21 years. In his teaching role, Kelly worked collaboratively on the design of biology and life science curriculum. He coordinated and implemented field studies and place-based learning activities. Furthermore, Kelly collaborated with the career and technical education (CTE) program staff to review and implement curriculum, allowing CTE students to earn full science credits on appropriate courses. 

In addition to teaching at HRVHS, Kelly led his colleagues as the science department area representative, AVID site team member, and school site team member. He also coached varsity and junior varsity girls and boys soccer as well as youth soccer, basketball, and lacrosse.

Prior to working at HRCSD, Kelly taught science  at The Dalles High School for four years. Prior to his professional career in education, Kelly worked as a fisheries research biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Olivet College (Olivet, Mich.). He earned a Master of Education in secondary education from Portland State University (Portland, Ore.). Kelly earned her administrative license from Concordia University of Chicago. 

“I am excited to continue the work of Kelly Running and HROA staff, building the programs that now exist at HROA,” Joe Kelly said. “HROA provides a resource for students and families in the HRCSD that is unique.” 

Kelly said he knows some of the unique challenges and rewards of working with students and families through HROA, as he taught within this program during the 2020-21 school year. As an alternative, online program, HROA supports many neighborhood schools to provide access to learning platforms when students and families are challenged to access the learning at their neighborhood school. HROA helps HRCSD fulfill some of the Hood River County community’s diverse educational needs.