After 37 years in public education, Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Robert Manahan has decided to retire at the end of this school year.
The news was announced on Jan. 14 in a written statement from Manahan. Manahan said he faced a medical “reality check,” which led him to retire earlier than planned. He said this July was the right time to retire and spend more time with his family.
“While my time here is shorter than I had hoped for, I do hope that staff, students, families and this community felt from me that they are respected, valued, capable, loved and that they belong to a district that is caring and compassionate. I still believe that ‘education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’ I have seen this happen here in the Snoqualmie Valley School District and I know it will continue to happen in years to follow,” Manahan wrote.
Manahan said he shared his decision to retire now to allow the SVSD School Board as much time as possible to find a successor.
“It is with deep sadness that we learned of this news from Dr. Manahan. Our entire board has been very pleased with Rob’s work as superintendent, and he will be sorely missed by all of us,” said School Board President Carolyn Simpson in a press release.
Manahan was named superintendent in May 2018. Prior to joining the district, he served as superintendent at Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor for two years, and in the same role at Lake Chelan School District for six years before that. Manahan also worked for the Lake Stevens School District, Sunnycrest Elementary School, Mount Pilchuck Elementary and Lake Stevens Middle School. He also taught at schools on the Pacific Peninsula earlier in his career.
Manahan earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Washington State University and a master’s degree in school administration from Western Washington University. His educational doctorate was earned from the University of Washington.
Manahan is married with four children and four grandchildren.
His full statement can be read below:
January 14, 2021
Dear Snoqualmie Valley families,
It has been a tremendous honor to serve the students, staff and families of Snoqualmie Valley for the past three years. After 37 years in public education, I have made the difficult decision to retire at the end of this school year. This decision is coming earlier than planned, and with mixed feelings. It is prompted in part by a medical “reality check” that we sometimes face, which calls for reflecting on life goals. For me, I believe this July will be the right time to make my transition into retirement to spend more time with my family.
Throughout my career, I have been surrounded by incredible and inspiring education professionals. Not only teachers, but all those who serve in our school districts to support the academic, social, physical, and emotional growth and well-being of the students and families we serve. In just three years at SVSD, I have seen our staff give extraordinary effort, time and energy to better the lives of our students. This includes our secretaries, bus drivers, mechanics, custodians, paraeducators, food service staff, maintenance and operations crew, and technology professionals. Going beyond the call of duty does not begin to describe the work of our teachers and staff within this district. I often state that their jobs are to change the world and create miracles every day. Indeed, they have, and they do.
I also want to convey how much I appreciate this community, whose support has meant the world to me. I was accepted with open arms from my first day in this community. My wife, family and I have enjoyed every minute here discovering this region and this community that is so friendly and passionate about education, creating a community that cares for one another. Thank you so much for welcoming my family and I. Remember, great communities make great schools, and great schools make great communities. You have an exceptional community here in the Valley and an exceptional school district. While these times are particularly challenging, I know that together, with the support and collaboration of one another, you will make it through to the other side — stronger, more resilient and even more focused on meeting the needs of all students in the Valley.
During my time serving Snoqualmie Valley schools I’ve had the privilege of celebrating some historic accomplishments and tackled some unprecedented challenges. As I look back, opening the amazing new Mount Si High School campus will always be a highlight and source of great pride, knowing the positive impact this will have on SVSD students for years to come. To help equip students for life after graduation, I so appreciated the staff/student/community collaboration that helped to define Snoqualmie Valley’s Portrait of a Graduate goals, prioritizing the key characteristics we are working to instill in every graduate to help them find success and satisfaction in life and the career path they choose.
More recently, I am proud of the work that has begun to increase community discussions around Diversity Equity and Inclusion practices and provide staff training focused on ensuring we serve and support EVERY student well. And, while the COVID pandemic has certainly challenged us in ways we never could a have predicted, I believe there are positive and lasting benefits we will take from this experience. Improving the health and safety of our school environment, empowering our teachers with new skills and resources to showcase their creativity, cherishing relationships – especially with students, and strengthening personal characteristics of resilience, adaptability, and independence are a few that come to mind.
While my time here is shorter than I had hoped for, I do hope that staff, students, families and this community felt from me that they are respected, valued, capable, loved and that they belong to a district that is caring and compassionate. I still believe that, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” I have seen this happen here in the Snoqualmie Valley School District and I know it will continue to happen in years to follow.
I am sharing this decision now with the hope that the School Board will have as much time as possible to conduct a thorough and comprehensive search process to hire an exceptional superintendent that this amazing school district deserves. In the meantime, I look forward to completing this school year with the same passion and commitment that I have given over these past three years and throughout my career. You have my assurance that I will continue to focus on what is best for our Snoqualmie Valley students, staff and families during these unprecedented times.
You have all taught me so much and I am honored to have served this district.