Rural Community Builder Name: Joe Morelock

Community: Newberg

Role: Superintendent of Newberg School District

What is one word or phrase that describes this person as an RCB: Innovative out of the box thinker!

Recognized by: Denise Bacon

Tell us a bit about what you appreciate about them as an RCB: Sometimes it is easy to say “That is not my job”. Newberg School Superintendent Dr. Joe Morelock doesn’t seem to have those words in his vocabulary. Under his leadership, Newberg School District (which serves the City of Dundee students as well as Newberg and rural areas of eastern Yamhill County), really steps up to meet the needs of the students, the community, and his staff. Dr. Joe and his staff partnered with Providence Hospital and the Wellness Collective to provide mental health and wrap-around services to the students and gave up valuable space to allow these services to be on Newberg High School’s main campus. And today, the district is examining the possibility of opening a medical clinic that would also be housed on campus and they are hosting community conversations to make sure that they are giving the community what they need.

When COVID-19 closed schools, Dr. Joe and his staff jumped into action. They knew that there would a lot of hungry children in our community if they did not have access to school breakfasts and lunches. They worked together to deliver 500,000 meals in the last year to make sure students and their families were fed. When the fires last summer came dangerously close, they gave use of their kitchens to local chefs and volunteers so meals could be made and served to the first responders that worked tirelessly to keep our community safe.

When the community voted for a school bond that would help improve the physical conditions of the school buildings, Dr. Joe allowed for bond committees to really examine the feel of the spaces. These committees are made up of diverse groups of people determined to design spaces where children feel safe, represented, comfortable, and fun, leaving behind the industrialized feel of the current spaces our children are learning in today. He is always striving to do better for our kids and our community, and he is succeeding.

Joe would tell you that it is his amazing staff that leads all this great work, and he would be right, but this kind of work is modeled by leadership and leading is what Joe does best. Imagine what communities could all look like if all to this position to work together to make things better for everyone.