Downtime with Colt Gill

Jason E. Kaplan

How the director of the Oregon Department of Education spends his free minutes

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What are you reading?

Most of my reading is related to my work; we have a lot of work to do to ensure our schools are doing all they can to serve today’s diverse population of students in Oregon. Currently, I’m reading Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning by Andratesha Fritzgerald and You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. On the personal reading front, I recently enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama.

What are you watching?

Ted Lasso. This series is silly, uplifting, distracting — yet aspirational regarding a way to be in this world. It is worth a weekend binge.

What are you listening to?

I’m a fan of podcasts; I spend a lot of time on the road. Sounds Like Hate, School Colors and Nice White Parents are some of several podcasts that help illustrate the impact of schools on communities of color. The Sporkful is great for a break that brings both levity and exploration of food. I’m also a big fan of the More Perfect podcast about the Supreme Court.

What are your hobbies/interests?

Honestly, I have had little time to develop hobbies, but I really enjoy cooking, brewing and beekeeping when I get minutes away from work. I hope to travel and read more than I’m able to today.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

Learning to read was a struggle for me; it didn’t happen until third grade and continued to be a struggle through all my school years. I was a student who did not fit in at school for a few reasons; one was a learning disability. My teachers worked hard to teach me and help make school a comfortable place for me. I think this continues to play a role in my ambitions today. Later, watching movies like American Flyers, Breaking Away and Quicksilver had me convinced I should be a professional cyclist. I got the opportunity to tour on several Oregon rides, and the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride, but realized I’d never be a pro. I still enjoy a great bike ride when I can.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

The Oregon Coast is the place where I can both fully relax and be physically active. It is a good place to set aside worries and contemplate the future.

What is your biggest extravagance?

Purchasing an electric car. Quiet, efficient, overly luxurious — and I have not visited a gas station in six years.

What motivates you to come to work?

The opportunity and privilege to partner with ODE staff and educators around the state to serve our students and prepare them for further education, career and life. Year over year, we’ve been helping more Oregon students graduate from high school than ever before. Seeing greater growth in graduation rates for most students of color, students with disabilities and students navigating poverty than the state as a whole means our efforts to foster equity and excellence for all Oregon students continues to improve.

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