Port Angeles gets look at first of two schools chief candidates

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The whole student and the whole staff member are often more important than the sum of their parts and both need to be developed, superintendent candidate Rick Thompson told the School Board on Monday afternoon.

The first of two finalists to sit for a series of forums this week, Thompson, 50, of Friday Harbor was interviewed by Port Angeles School Board members at a special meeting, followed by two public forums.

The board was initially scheduled to make a final selection at 7 p.m. Thursday during its regular meeting at Lincoln High School, 924 W. Ninth St.

But School Board President Steve Baxter said Monday the decision might be made today at 8 p.m. following the final public forum for the second finalist, Marc Jackson of Yermo, Calif.

Current Superintendent Jane Pryne is retiring on June 30 after five years in Port Angeles.

The board asked a series of questions about Thompson’s educational ideology, budget practices, management style and views on career and technical education and extracurricular programs.

Learning takes place all day, whether it is in the classroom, on the field or building robots, and isn’t just about test scores, Thompson said.

“There are lessons to be learned in intense experiences as part of a team,” he said.

Similarly, career and technical education, or CTE, courses serve the whole student, and give more students a chance to find a place where they can succeed, he said.

Thompson said the current vocational programs will be examined to see if they are the right ones for students.

“We need to look at CTE in the broader framework of 21st century skills that prepare them for the next level,” he said.

Thompson took a similar approach to teacher and staff development, noting that detailed feedback and praise when things are done well are important to professional development.

“Education is a reward-starved institution,” Thompson said.

Thompson has been superintendent of the San Juan Island School District, with district offices in Friday Harbor, since 2010.

In his first year at the district, he was the subject of intense community scrutiny after a popular school principal resigned and moved out of state, a move that Thompson said was not related to him.

During that time, Thompson’s history was examined in detail, and a discrepancy was found regarding the nature of a paper written as part of his masters degree in 1988.

In Thompson’s introductory biography for his application to the San Juan Island School District post, he incorrectly referred to a major class research paper written for a course as a thesis.

The error was not repeated in his official listing of academic credentials.

“I used the wrong word,” Thompson said Monday.

He received a reprimand by the San Juan Island School Board.

The controversy was discussed in a Monday morning meeting with the Port Angeles School Board, Thompson said.

Before Friday Harbor, he served as superintendent and curriculum director of the Lynden School District and as a middle school principal in the Cle Elum-Roslyn School District, all in Washington state.

He holds a Master of Educational Administration and bachelor’s degrees in English and social studies from Western Washington University.

San Juan Island School District has about 850 students in one high school, one middle school, two elementary schools and a K-12 school.

The second finalist, Marc Jackson, will be in Port Angeles today for his interviews and meetings.

Jackson is currently superintendent at Silver Valley Unified School District, in the Southern California Mojave Desert town of Yermo.

The formal interview will be held during a School Board open session from 1:30 to 3 p.m. today at the Central Services Building, 216 E. Fourth St.

Two staff and community meetings will be held today at 3:30 p.m. in the Port Angeles High School library, 304 E. Park Ave., and at 6 p.m. in the Jefferson Elementary School gymnasium, 218 E. 12th St.

Thompson and Jackson were selected from a field of 36 applicants.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 24. 2014 6:32PM
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