Sequim School Board names new superintendent

Nickels, a Maine native, taught in Bremerton schools

Regan Nickels.

Regan Nickels.

SEQUIM — Sequim schools has its new lead administrator — a superintendent of a school district in Maine who taught in Bremerton schools.

In a special meeting Thursday evening, board directors unanimously agreed to hire Regan Nickels, currently the superintendent of Regional School Unit 22 in Hapden, Maine, as its next permanent superintendent.

“From my perspective, we had a candidate with integrity who will be an advocate for all students,” said Eric Pickens, school board president.

Nickels, who joined in the virtual meeting Thursday from Maine, said she was born and raised in Maine and started her teaching career in eighth-grade mathematics and science before moving to Bremerton with her husband John, a U.S. Navy submariner.

She taught third- , fourth- , fifth- and eighth-grade classes while in Bremerton before moving back to Maine in 2005, working in various administrative roles. She was principal at George B. Weatherbee School (grade 3-5) and Reeds Brook Middle School, both Hampden.

“What excites me most about joining Sequim School District is the match,” Nickels said in a press release.

“Sometimes you just know when a partnership will be the right fit and I look forward to our work together in celebrating the best that education has to offer in the district.”

Nickels was named superintendent of RSU 22 in July 2020 after serving as assistant superintendent of business operations in that district in Maine from 2017-2020.

“I feel entirely blessed coming from a district that’s all about excellence, live what you say, in education,” she said Thursday.

“I just can’t wait to share what I’ve learned in education and to learn from you as well. I can’t wait to meet the students and the teachers; it’s going to be special time.”

Nickels’ first day on the job is July 18.

Her contract — one that board directors approved prior to revealing the identity of their selection — is a three-year contract with a base salary of $230,000.

While in Washington state, Nickels earned her master’s degree in educational technology from City University in Bellevue, and her certificate in educational leadership and her administrator certification from Western Washington University in Bellingham.

“Having spent a decade in the Pacific Northwest, I knew what I missed,” Nickels said. “I’m very interested in getting to know what the district has inside of it that makes it tick.

“I really do want the Sequim School District to become the most desirable district in the state of Washington.”

In a press release, Pickens said Nickels is “clearly a leader who will build a standard of excellence, with a culture of inclusiveness and trust within the Sequim School District and our community.”

The superintendent position became vacant late last year after Jane Pryne resigned after 13 months as interim superintendent. Pryne replaced superintendent Robert Clark, who resigned after a complaint in October 2020 put him on administrative leave.

Joan Zook, a retired superintendent and Sequim resident, accepted the interim position after Pryne for the remainder of the school year.

After a series of interviews, including those by a group of school staff and community representatives, school board directors on March 13 unanimously agreed to hire an individual only identified at “Candidate W” to be the district’s lead administrator.

“We are still at a level where we protect the confidentiality of the applicants,” Pickens said just prior to the March 13 vote.

The district declined to reveal the identity of any candidates during the search process until an offer was made and a contract signed.

School board members narrowed their search from five candidates to three finalists and an alternate on Feb. 25 following an all-day executive session meeting and interviewing the candidates via Zoom. Board members then held interviews all day — both in person and in executive session — on March 12, before an executive session a day later.

The five semi-finalists were narrowed from a field of 21 applicants on Feb. 15.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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