Bremerton high school principal to lead Port Townsend schools

John A. Polm ()

John A. Polm ()

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School Board has selected Bremerton High School’s principal as its next superintendent.

John A. Polm Jr., 52, has accepted the position and expects to begin work July 1.

His salary and benefits had not been determined as of Friday after the board approved his hiring Thursday night.

The board will consider approving a three-year contract with him when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday in the Gael Stuart Building, 1610 Blaine St.

Polm will replace David Engle, who is retiring June 30.

Polm “is a great fit for the district both in his experience and personality,” said Nathanael O’Hara, the school board chair.

“We were impressed by the work he had done in Bremerton,” where Polm has worked as principal for six years.

“He increased the graduate rate and he understands teachers,” O’Hara said.

Polm has worked in his current job since 2010, working prior to that in the small communities of Chewelah and Burbank.

Polm said his long-term goal has been to work as a superintendent.

He viewed the Port Townsend position as a great opportunity.

“The community is one that I have visited many times,” he said.

“I am impressed with the idea of place-based learning, which very much aligns with my philosophy.”

Maritime initiative

During his four years with the district, Engle oversaw the establishment of the Maritime Discovery Initiative, which injects elements of maritime instruction at every grade level.

The district received 15 applications for the superintendent’s position.

Polm was one of three finalists, along with Tina L. Goar, rural liaison/rural support manager at the Colorado Department of Education, and James J. Herrholtz Jr., deputy superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center in Youngstown, Ohio.

All three participated in a process that began with board interviews May 14.

Each candidate also spent a day in the district touring facilities, meeting stakeholders and meeting the public in evening sessions.

“All the candidates saw a really good cross-section of the whole community,”O’Hara said.

“They were 12- and 14-hour days, which is not completely unique in the life of a superintendent.”

Both O’Hara and Polm cited the recent passage of a $40.9 million school construction bond with a 73.23 percent of the vote as a positive sign for the district.

“The community wants us to continue what we are doing and has demonstrated their trust with the passage of the bond,” O’Hara said.

“It’s an exciting time for Port Townsend with the recent passage of the levy and bond,” Polm wrote in his application letter.

“I will provide leadership to the district to ensure the sound care and management of its resources and infrastructure.”

Polm has been married for 31 years and has three grown children.

He said he plans to sell his Bremerton house and purchase property in Port Townsend.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

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