The Snoqualmie Valley School District recently selected Dr. Robert Manahan as its new superintendent.
The school board announced the decision May 29, with Manahan’s start date as July 2.
With more than 30 years of experience in education, Manahan said he is passionate about public education.
Prior to his new position, Manahan served as superintendent at the Peninsula School District as well as the Lake Chelan School District. He first became interested in education when he was in high school and served as a camp counselor. Manahan pursued a degree in recreational therapy at Washington State University but soon changed his major to physical education and then elementary education. He served as an elementary teacher for seven years and as a middle school teacher for three years before he received his administrative degree through Western Washington University.
Manahan never really considered leaving the classroom but believes he is in the right position.
“It’s just one of those things where people tap you on the shoulder, and like I never really thought I’d be a principal — I would never want to leave the classroom — but people were suggesting I try it and I loved it,” he said. “Then someone said, ‘Well you might want to think about central office.’ So, I went to central office over in the Lake Stevens School District and then someone said, ‘Well, why don’t you try to be superintendent?’ So, I tried it. Got the job in Chelan and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Manahan is excited to join SVSD. As a superintendent, he said he enjoys being able provide a vision that people can resonate with and help them find “the why” of being in education.
“We sometimes get stuck on logistics and making sure our scores are where they need to be and that can sometimes drain the passion and the compassion away from the work,” he said. “My favorite part of being a superintendent is inspiring people and re-engaging people in the work and re-empowering them in changing the world to create miracles every day.”
One of Manahan’s core values is making sure everyone receives respect. At PSD, he laid out a vision that sought to meet that need.
“[I believe in] ensuring that every student, staff member and parent feels like they’re respected, that they belong to a caring, compassionate organization and that they feel valued, capable and loved,” he said. “I set that as our foundation and just repeating that has made a difference.”
Manahan’s goal for SVSD is to make sure students have multiple pathways to pursue after graduation.
“I want to help us look at how we’re empowering our students to find their passion in learning so that when they graduate they can take advantage of whatever opportunity there is. I don’t want any kid to walk out and feel like they can’t do something or find the resources to be able to do something or anything,” he said.
He believes he will bring strong inspiration to educators and reaffirm the sense of urgency they feel around their students.
“I think I’ll bring inspiration and helping people become re-inspired about the work that they do and hoping that I can help reaffirm the sense of urgency that they feel around all of our students — whether they’re just a regular kid who’s just cruising along or a kid who has some issues around poverty or addiction or kids who have English language issues,” Manahan said. “They’re all of our kids and so figuring out what’s our sense of urgency of how we’re supporting every single kid in the district regardless of where they come from, their zip code, their racial ethnicity is [important.]
Manahan is looking forward to instilling multiple ways in which students, staff and teachers can thrive and succeed in the school district.
“This is a great school district and there’s the saying that good is the enemy of great, and I would say for us that great can be the enemy of excellence,” he said. “ I’m looking forward to taking us to that next level of achieving more than we thought we ever could achieve.”