SVSD principals leaving district after serving combined 36 years

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SNOQUALMIE - The Snoqualmie Valley School District has always prided itself on having the best staff around.

However, this year two of its most esteemed staff members will be moving on after school ends in June. Snoqualmie Middle School Principal Jack McCullough and Snoqualmie Elementary School Principal Lisa Grant are both planning to leave the district.

"Both of the Snoqualmie schools have had unprecedented improvement since they have been there," said Superintendent Dr. Richard McCullough of the two principals. "We would definitely like Lisa to come back sometime so we can hire her again, and Snoqualmie Middle School has become one of the best middle schools in the state."

Jack McCullough, who has taught and been an administrator in the district for 24 years, is retiring. After 34 years in education, McCullough said it is time to give his health a chance to catch up with his exertions.

He said he was inspired to teach after watching his older sister teaching in Bremerton and helping out with her classroom.

"I always enjoyed that feeling of helping someone learn," McCullough said.

He graduated from Central Washington University, and his work alternated between positions in Washington and Southern California before he was tapped to be an assistant principal at North Bend Elementary in 1978. He became the principal of Snoqualmie Middle School 11 years ago and has kept the post ever since.

"I've worked really hard to give the kids good information for good choices," McCullough said. "We know they have a lot of choices to make."

After 34 years of seeing children grow up, McCullough said things have changed. The added pressures to succeed have made kids busier than ever, and despite the fact they look and act more and more like adults, he insisted they are still a group of 12- to 14-year-olds that needs to be taught the fundamentals of learning.

"Sometimes I fear that with all the things we get them involved in, we lose sight of the basic skills we are supposed to teach them," McCullough said.

He said he is proud to hand over his staff to incoming principal Ruth Mullen, currently the principal at Chief Kanim Middle School. And it is a staff he knows well; many transferred with him when he became principal, or they were hired by him over the past 11 years.

"We have such a great staff," McCullough. "The kids have always been first with us."

Like SMS, Snoqualmie Elementary will say farewell to its principal, Grant, who has been with the district for 12 years.

She started teaching 16 years ago after graduating from Gonzaga University in Spokane. Her first job was teaching special education in Portland, moving to the Snoqualmie Valley School District after four years to become an assistant principal at Chief Kanim Middle School, where she later became principal.

Grant was named the principal at Snoqualmie Elementary five years ago, and she said the best years of her educational career have been spent with the district.

"Leaving this school is going to be the hardest thing," she said. "I've grown attached to it."

Grant and her husband will move to Florida to be closer to his son, and she hopes to find another job as principal.

Although Grant is excited about the move, she said she hopes she has not seen the last of the Northwest or the Snoqualmie Valley. She would like to eventually move back and make a home again in the area she's came to love while working for the district.

"The Valley is wonderful," Grant said. "This building is wonderful and the parents are involved."

Cori Pflug, who is currently a part-time assistant principal at Snoqualmie Middle School, will be the new principal at Snoqualmie Elementary School.

Although McCullough and Grant taught at different schools, both had similar feelings about the school district, with each saying they were honored to work here.

"What kept me here was the quality of the community. I had opportunities to go other places, but I choose not to," McCullough said. "This school district works because the community supports it and it is getting better."

Wherever Grant ends up, she said she will always carry part of the Snoqualmie Valley School District with her - namely its philosophy on education.

"I know wherever I go, it'll be different. It may not be better or worse, but just different," she said. "There has always been a common focus on the kids here. I hope I can find that wherever I go."

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@valley

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