Franklin Principal Juanita Valder will be retiring at the end of the school year. Valder has been principal of Franklin for four years, and has worked in education for 31.
Valder began her career at Grant High School, where she spent nine years as a teacher. She then spent one year teaching at Roosevelt, followed by 17 years working as a vice principal at Madison, Jefferson, Benson, and Cleveland. Valder describes her time at Jefferson as one of the most rewarding experiences of her career. “We went through an enormous amount of change during that time period… [I] worked on the development of the middle college program at PCC that they now have revived and are working on.” Jefferson’s middle college program partners with PCC Cascade, allowing students to earn college credit through dual courses offered at the high school and through PCC courses offered free of charge. “It was a pretty difficult situation, with our scores and things that we needed to turn around. It was the best of times and the worst of times in some cases,” says Valder.
Valder has also enjoyed her time at Franklin. “It’s one of those things that’s like, ‘what a way to top off your career,’” says Valder. “To walk out of a building [that looks] like a community college, with kids really happy and a really good teaching staff.” Valder oversaw Franklin’s $113 million remodel, and the school’s temporary move to the Marshall High School campus during construction. “I think what’s been really exciting about my time at Franklin is that all of the things that I did in my teaching and in my administrative career have kind of prepared me for this,” says Valder. “I was at Benson when we were building CTE, and I was doing a lot of dual credit at Jeff, and the academy structures—we did that while I was at Jefferson. So it’s like all these little pieces [coming together].”
Valder recently received the Portland Council Portland Teacher Association Administrator of the Year award. Franklin students and staff have expressed their appreciation for her work in her four years at Franklin. During the May Fete assembly, an appreciation video made by FHS student Caty Jimenez (12) was displayed, and the school’s choir performed. In the video, teachers and admin thanked Valder for her work. “She’s always fighting for the student population and the staff here at Franklin to make us what we are today,” said Principal’s Secretary Elizabeth Avila. “She’s kind of the voice of the Franklin community.”
Valder’s retirement plans include spending time with her family. “This job tends to be kind of all-encompassing, so my biggest goal is to make all those reconnections that you miss… and I’m planning to go on a couple trips. That’ll be fun,” says Valder.
Franklin Vice-Principal Chris Frazier will be Valder’s successor. Valder sees a bright future for Franklin. “It’s just gonna fly from here,” she says.