Name: Brad Kudlac
School: Culver Middle School
Position: Principal, Athletic Director, STEM Coordinator, GEAR UP Coordinator
College Alma Mater: Linfield College, University of Montana, Western Oregon University, Bachelor's of Science at Southern Oregon University, Master's Degree at Eastern Oregon University
I played football at Linfield, Montana, Western, and Southern. There are various reasons for the changes. Linfield was not a good fit for me and began looking for a different option almost immediately when I got on campus. The University of Montana made the greatest impact on my college life, but being a 7th string running back out of 9 players, I knew I would never see the field. Western Oregon ruled me ineligible to play as they transitioned to NCAA Division 2 rules as a double transfer. I had just red-shirted at Montana and didn't want to sit out another season. After some research, I soon learned I could play the next season at the NAIA or Division 3 level. I settled at Southern Oregon University. It was too close to home being born and raised in Grants Pass when I graduated from high school. However, SOU was the best fit for me as a person and as an athlete, and I am shocked to say that to this day. I was able to be a 3 year starter at defensive back leading our team in interceptions in 2 of those seasons, working 3 jobs as the softball team manager, opening the weight room on campus 4 mornings a week, and as a courtesy clerk at Safeway. Eventually, I still graduated in 4 years, made the All American football team, put my name on the Dean's List a couple times, and earned the award of the first ever National Defensive Player of the Week at SOU. Eastern hired me as an assistant football coach following my playing career, and I figured I might as well get my Masters degree while I was in LaGrande.
Fun Fact: I love to hunt, camp, fish, travel, spend time with family and friends but my favorite spare time activity is raising and showing Hereford cattle with my family. My parents have been involved with Hereford cattle for 50+ years, and getting the opportunity to pass life lessons I gained through the cattle industry onto my own children is extremely rewarding.
Because of GEAR UP, Culver families have already opened a plethora of doors that they didn't even know existed. GEAR UP will continue to help students realize that college is a reality, not a possibility.
Describe an aspect of your educational journey.
College was going to happen, no matter what. My parents were the greatest influence on my life, as they should be. However, they set very high expectations for my 2 brothers and I. They expected nearly perfect grades, hard work, and our best effort at anything we did. Raising 3 boys was pretty difficult I am sure, but they had a firm grasp on us to try to excel at anything we did through hard work and determination. College was something that was always out there and we were going to do it, no matter what! Our family faced a lot of hardship, just like any other typical family, but making my brothers and I focus on our education and our dreams was something my parents were determined to do. I have several teachers and coaches I could continue to list that contributed to that process as well, but ultimately my parents and my brothers impacted me the most.
In the 5th grade, my teacher, Mr. Dick West, made our entire class determine a career we wanted to have. Not a job, but a career. After we determined our career, he took us on college visits. These were obviously the days before GEAR UP and he was a man ahead of the times of making students strive for their best. In the 5th grade, I determined my career to be a teacher someday. He took us to what is now SOU and made us meet with the admissions department and other various departments. I will never forget our visit with admissions though. They told us the required GPA to gain entrance to the college. After this trip, it seemed like Mr. West brought up the GPA scenario on a daily basis. He stressed to me to be, "an active learner, to get involved with my education, to not be a fly on the wall." Those were his exacts words to me one day I was off task, through his horrible coffee breath, and I have never forgotten them. As I ventured into my high school and college days, several people around me helped shape me into a future educator and coach. In no way, shape, or form did I get down this path on my own. I have many coaches and teachers that encouraged me to go into the education field and this career remained as my focus during all of those times.
I never had a goal of becoming a principal, as my high school senior project involved job shadowing an athletic director at a neighboring high school. Athletic Administration was my ultimate pinnacle. During the early years of my career as a teacher, my wife became my biggest influence on my life. She was a teacher and is currently an academic coach. However, she became that prod to help maintain a strong focus upon my life. Once she became pregnant with our first child, we figured this was the best time to start the University of Oregon IAL program. Without her support while going through a pregnancy and delivery, I don't know how I could've taken the IAL courses, taught a typical school year as a history teacher, and coached 3 sports. Eventually, the current job I have came open in the summer of 2009. I didn't think I was ready to be a principal, but this position was tied to an athletic director spot. I soon learned that I was right, I wasn't ready and I threw myself into a fire that was burning very hot. The first couple years were extremely rough, very rough, but she remained as my driving force to 'stay the course' and 'hold my line' and continue to lead as best I could.
Now, 8 years into a principalship, the Culver Middle School staff and students are the reason I come to school each day. CMS was placed in the proverbial "AYP Jail" for reading and attendance in 2011. In 2012, we went from jail to a level 4 school. Then, we became one of the state's designated MODEL SCHOOL'S as a level 5 school for 2 years in a row, in 2013 and 2014! Only 4 middle schools in Oregon received this designation each of those years. To this day, this accomplishment that we made as a school, is something that drives me to stay in this career. There are some very special people, including both staff and students, at Culver Middle School and I consider it an honor to be their principal.
Share one way that GEAR UP has made a difference in your school or community.
EXPOSURE!! EXPOSURE!!! EXPOSURE!!! Culver is centrally located in the state of Oregon, without many opportunities to see what is available through a college. Because of GEAR UP, our students have been exposed to so many other available options. They now realize what is possible to them. Since we are a part of the cohort group, our current 9th graders have already been on 12 different college campuses. Without GEAR UP this would have never happened and our students have now had the opportunity to realize their college dreams are more of a reality. At our 8th grade celebration ceremony last year, all 3 students that gave speeches to our audience made reference to their college campus visits and how they are looking forward to college someday. All 3 students mentioned that they already know which colleges they would eventually like to attend! This had never happened in the 8th grade celebrations prior to this year.