Astor principal aims to start school on time

Kate Gohr, the new principal at John Jacob Astor Elementary School, is ready for the school year with a refurbished building.

Kate Gohr is the new principal at John Jacob Astor Elementary School.

In January, Astoria School District Superintendent Craig Hoppes asked Gohr – an elementary math coach and director of Astoria School District’s online school, Oregon Choice Academy – to take the job. Former principal Travis Roe becomes a language arts teacher at Astoria Middle School, effective Tuesday.

“It’s a lot of learning all at once,” said Gohr. “Even names; I had 500 names to memorize.”

But, Gohr added, the staff at Astor helped her adjust.

The Puyallup, Wash., native has been with the district as an intermediate teacher, talented-and-gifted coordinator, math coach and now principal since graduating from Eastern Washington University 16 years ago. She has also been a consultant for the McGraw Hill textbook company and most recently earned her administrative license online though Grand Canyon University.

Her husband, Eric Gohr, a physical education teacher at the middle school, has been with the district 15 years. The two have a 6-year-old son, Quin, in the first grade and a daughter, Kyah, 4, who starts kindergarten next year.

“I plan to be here … for a long, long time,” said Gohr, adding that the North Coast, the outdoors and the opportunity to surf made it her first choice and the only job she applied for after graduation. “I can’t see myself going anywhere.”

When she arrived at the school after a break in early July, said Gohr, she was walking through an active work zone, with crews refurbishing the 89-year-old building.

Gohr said they carpeted seven rooms, painted the old gym and many other rooms. They refinished the gym floor and repaired a lot of rot from the outside. She said Transportation and Maintenance Director Ryan Hahn directed the project.

Orientation is at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 2 at Astor, and school starts the next morning at 8:20 a.m.

Ten minutes into the school day, first-graders start their reading exercises, an especially important part of the day. Reading proficiently by the third grade is one of the biggest indicators of academic and career success, as it’s the point at which students are supposed to stop learning to read, and start reading to learn.

The district added three teaching assistants for four hours a day at Astor to help prepare children. But it does no good if kids aren’t at school, on time.

Astor has the highest rate of chronic absenteeism and tardiness in the district. Gohr said she wasn’t surprised, because younger kids are more likely to get sick. But the problem, she added, largely rests with students whose parents drop them off rather than putting them on the bus. The district invested a lot of time and effort in the issue last year, but she saw little to no improvement.

In addition to missing out on and disrupting class, said Gohr, tardy students build an anxiety toward school. “They (parents) just need to get them here, and once they’re at school, they’re fine.

“If they could come here at least five minutes early, that would be a dream.”

— Edward Stratton

‘I plan to be here … for a long, long time.’

— Kate Gohr

Astor Elementary School principal

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