Richard (Rick) Foss
Rick Foss holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, a Master of Education in Administration with a Superintendent Credential. Rick began his experience as a music teacher in a small district in Eastern Lewis County in Washington State. The district served three towns: Packwood, Randle and Glenoma. Employment centered on the logging industry. Most students came from homes that earned middle-class incomes, and about 35% of students went on to college while the remainder stayed in the area and worked in the forests and lumber mills.
As a high school principal, Rick worked in Peshastin-Dryden Schools, a small district located in an agricultural area of Chelan County, Washington. The population was predominantly white though some Hispanics did attend the school during harvest. The students who remained year-round were the children of parents who held jobs as orchard manager or other year-round positions. The migrant students received services through regular education and migrant supplementary support in academic achievement.
Rick's position as associate superintendent in the Wapato School District in Yakima County focused on the implementation of programs to address language development, academic support, social/emotional services, and cultural needs of identified students. A sample of these programs includes Title I (academic support), Title VII (Indian Education), Johnson O'Malley (Native Cultural and social-emotional support), Bilingual Education (ESL and academic support for limited English speakers), and multiple other grants and contracts designed to serve the needs of traditionally underserved student populations. The two major ethnic groups are Hispanic and Native American (Yakama Nation).
In the final years of his career, Rick was Superintendent in the Mt. Adams School District, the immediate neighbor to the Wapato District, which shares many of the same student demographics. However, in Mt Adams the majority population of students are Yakama Nation children with the remainder representing both white and Hispanic youth. Due to the high incidence of poverty, the district qualifies for 100% free breakfast and lunch in all grades. A significant number of graduates attend college, with mixed success. Those who complete their degrees usually return to the reservation and use their education to give back to the tribe.
The common lesson that Rick has learned in working with these diverse populations in diverse learning situations is that students will rise to the level they are capable of achieving as long as we support their opportunities and believe in their capacity to succeed. Rick joined the Altera Board of Directors in 2012. His counsel is critical in helping staff negotiate with the dozens of school districts with whom they partner.