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Olympic View principal retires after leading turnaround

Olympic View Elementary School Principal Martha Adams, who will retire at the end of the school year, stands in front of one of the school’s greatest achievements during her time there, the Washington Achievement Award, which the school earned after working hard to overcome federal school improvement status.  - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Olympic View Elementary School Principal Martha Adams, who will retire at the end of the school year, stands in front of one of the school’s greatest achievements during her time there, the Washington Achievement Award, which the school earned after working hard to overcome federal school improvement status.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

As Olympic View Elementary School Principal Martha Adams plans to retire at the end of this school year, she said she has a lot to be proud of in the five years she led the school.

Laura Aesoph, principal of North Whidbey Middle School, will take over as Olympic View principal next school year.

“I just decided I would retire while I still enjoyed my job and while I’m still kind of at the top of my game,” Adams said.

Adams entered the field of education as an elementary school teacher in 1973. She joined the Oak Harbor School District in 2006 as principal of Clover Valley Elementary School, then moved to Olympic View Elementary after Clover Valley closed.

She was also a principal in California, Everett and Snohomish.

“The proudest would have been last year when we got the three major academic awards,” Adams said of her time at Olympic View Elementary.

In 2010, Olympic View earned the Washington Achievement Award, given by the Washington State Board of Education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Apple Award, given by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the school was named a School of Distinction by the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

“And the credit goes to the staff and the students for working so hard,” Adams said.

These victories came after an especially tough time for the school. In 2009, the school failed to meet standards for state testing and was placed on the federal school improvement list.

“It was quite the blow,” Adams said, adding that she took it very personally.

But the staff and students worked hard to overcome the setback and went from the bottom to the top as a School of Distinction.

“Really, the hard times served to unify and make us stronger and that’s OK. We don’t seek them out but difficult parts make us stronger and better as educators,” Adams said.

The most fulfilling aspect of her time at Olympic View Elementary was working in a military community for the first time. She worked with students from around the world. Although each student averages less than three years in a community, that didn’t keep staff and students from becoming close.

“This is the first time I’ve worked in a military community and the students and staff are just such a family and it’s truly been rewarding to work with people who care so much about each other,” Adams said.

After retiring, Adams said she plans to continue her boating hobby and possibly do some traveling.

Adams recently earned her National Mentor Principal Certification, which qualifies her to act as a mentor to first-year principals. She has been mentoring a new principal in Anacortes this year and will continue to mentor after she retires.

“I want to stay connected but just in a different way,” Adams said, adding that she will continue to live in Anacortes after she retires.

Adams’ replacement, Aesoph, said she looks forward to returning to the elementary level.

She did her principal internship at Olympic View Elementary in 1998 and was the principal of Hillcrest Elementary School from 2000 to 2007.

“I really did enjoy working at the elementary level,” Aesoph said.

Aesoph said North Whidbey Middle and Olympic View Elementary schools share many

families and experiences, including that both had trouble meeting state standards and both use the same teaching approaches. She has seen Olympic View Elementary accomplish many achievements and North Whidbey Middle is on the same path.

“I developed a very strong fondness for the school,” she said of Olympic View Elementary, “and the staff and families there. So I feel like I’m going home at this point.”

The need for a new principal for North Whidbey Middle will be filled through a competitive statewide search.

 

 

 

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