Josh Porter just finished his 14th, and final, year at Clarinda Community Schools.
The district’s former head wrestling and assistant football coach spent the last four years in the district as the activities director, but left to take a job as the 9-12 AD in the Fort Dodge district.
His last day with Clarinda schools was June 4.
Porter graduated from Fort Dodge High School in 1999, where was named the district’s outstanding male athlete his senior year.
Wife Sandy has worked in the Clarinda district for 16 years and Josh said there weren’t a lot of jobs they would have even considered as they have loved their time in Clarinda, but this was one that checked all of the boxes.
“I had some old friends from (Fort Dodge), some people from high school and members of their administration there that reached out,” Josh Porter said. “It was intriguing to look there. My parents live 30 minutes from there. I went and interviewed and they had a health and PE position open and my wife is health and PE certified. She has a job there as a PE and health teacher at Fort Dodge High School. Things have to align perfectly and that made the transition easy.”
The Porters also have three children, daughter Karson is 10 and sons Knox and Kruz are 8 and 4. While saying there aren’t many times where it’s good to move with young children, they thought the timing was right.
Porter said another hard part about leaving Clarinda was the current direction of the school’s athletic and activity programs.
“We have had a lot of conversations about culture and expectations as a department,” Porter said. “Our activities are excellent. Our FFA, FCCLA and band programs are some of the best in southwest Iowa and I would put our FFA and band against any in the state, they are unbelievable.”
In looking at athletics, it’s all about getting on the same page, something he feels they have done, especially with a lot of new coaches in the district. He adds all of them have bought in from the first-year coaches to football assistant Roger Williams, who has been on the sidelines for 30 years.
“The big thing that has transitioned here as a whole was getting everyone on the same page,” Porter said. “It was all about the same things and increasing expectations. Our conversations were very similar and we included everyone, including our youth programs. We felt if we could do that, right or wrong, we could move forward. If they continue to do that and that nucleus of people continues to have those expectations it doesn’t matter who comes in or serves the role, they will be successful.”
Porter was asked about highlights during his time at Clarinda and went back to his time as wrestling coach, saying the state titles from Bryant Hummel and Blake Luna were great, but watching the kids improve was best.
“The kids that had never wrestled in their life that came out and we had a big impact on them and wrestling became a part of them,” Porter said. “They may not have won many matches and nobody may remember them as a wrestler, but I’ll never forget what they did and their commitment to the program.”
Porter thanked his superintendents and school board in allowing him to add coaches, add signage and add some color and identifying the school’s brand.
“I like to do those things because kids love them,” Porter said. “You’ll see our football field this year will be fantastic and we’re currently redoing the track. Recently, watching the growth of our boys and girls track programs in one year was great. Our participation numbers are through the roof compared to most schools our size, watching that and watching Isaac Jones go win the long jump, watching our kids compete and place was great. It was a big highlight for me to finish up.”
Another recent highlight for Porter was the addition of a “train to be clutch class” that took place before school.
Porter said as he leaves Clarinda, he hopes the school and community remember him as someone who always put the kids first.
“I hope everyone says at no time did I make a decision that was selfish,” Porter said, “it was all about what was best for the kids in athletics and activities. I hope people would say we have tried to be creative the last four years. We were in a bad spot, but we have done a good job bringing in coaches and directors in to have a big impact on kids. We have a young staff, but they have a lot of energy and are doing a great job.”
Porter said the community support has been phenomenal over the years and he has seen that even more since he resigned, saying he’s heard many positive comments from the community.
“You hope you have made an impact on somebody in those years,” Porter said. “It’s crazy to think you can stay somewhere for that long. We had Mike Crawford retire, who has been a custodian here for 46 years. I can’t imagine being in one place for that long, but we look as Fort Dodge as probably the last move we’re going to make. If I can go to Fort Dodge and do the best I can and finish my career there, we’re doing the right thing.”
Clarinda is currently without an activities director, as last week was Porter’s last in the district. He’ll start his new position in Fort Dodge July 1.