Principal to step down from dual role as second principal after 10 years
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Chimacum High School Principal Whitney Meissner will be replaced as middle school principal for the next school year. Her 14-year-old son, Jack Meissner, is in the background. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — Whitney Meissner, who has served as principal for both high school and middle school in the Chimacum School District for 10 years, is stepping down as middle school principal to give a boost to academic development.

“There will be new challenges in the next few years,” Meissner said Friday, her last day as middle school principal.

“Working with teachers takes a lot longer, and it’s also a safety issue, since it’s often necessary to have increased supervision in both schools.”

The district has posted the position that will be filled this summer for a new middle school principal to oversee the school for sixth- through eighth-grade students.

In addition to the high school, Meissner will continue to be principal for Pi, an alternative educational program.

The change decreases Meissner’s student load by around 35 percent. Chimacum Middle has 230 students, while the high school has 358 students and the Pi program 77 students.

While Meissner’s plate won’t be as full next year, she said she feels an emotional pull to the children she will no longer deal with directly.

“It’s a really big change after being in that role for 10 years,” Meissner said.

“Everything we do in the middle school is collaborative, but because it is so collaborative, we are pretty close, so I am glad that I will be next door and continue working with these people.

“But it is hard that I won’t be working with that age level and that staff on a daily basis.”

Meissner, 43, has been an educator for about half her life.

The idea of becoming a principal emerged at the end of her first year as a teacher of English and math in the Federal Way school system.

“At the end of the first school year that I taught, some of the people in the school took me aside and said that I had the natural leadership skills to work as a principal,” Meissner said.

“I had never thought about that, but after awhile, I became involved in helping around the school in leadership ways.”

Working as a principal is rewarding because it’s never the same, she said.

“I like this job because it’s unpredictable,” she said.

“You never know what’s going to come up.

“Principals are responsible for managing resources and maintaining educational standards and for managing collaboration, as well as having a good bedside manner so you don’t tick people off.

“I sometimes need to remind myself to stay positive and not get irritated when I have to answer the same question over and over, because when a person asks a question, they are asking it for the first time, and I need to respond in a positive way.”

Meissner said she has no long-term plans beyond seeing her two children, Jack, 14, and Molly, 12, through school at Chimacum.

“I want to be the one to hand my kids their diplomas when they graduate,” she said.

“I’m not sure what will happen after that,” she added.

“I have my superintendent’s credentials, and I may look into working in that area because I love working with teachers, and I love teaching adults.”

Meissner uses social media to stay in touch with the school community. Many of her 1,114 Facebook friends are students.

She plans to separate her personal page from her school-related page in the next year.

“Since my kids are in this school, I know many of the kids on a personal level, so it’s hard to draw the line,” Meissner said.

“I don’t add kids as friends, but if they add me, I accept them because it allows me to connect with them, but in the future, I will be separating my personal page from the Chimacum Schools group page, although I will never put anything on my personal page that I wouldn’t put on my office wall or my desk.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 15. 2013 5:52PM
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