Principal switches districts

"Coupeville's gain is Oak Harbor's loss.That was the general feeling late this week when Coupeville School District Superintendent Suzanne Bond announced that Oak Harbor Elementary School principal Glenda Merwine had accepted the job as new principal of Coupeville Elementary.We're pleased to have her, Bond said Friday after a list of 17 applicants had been narrowed down to just one. She is someone who is warm and has a good heart for kids. And also happens to have all the necessary skills.Merwine replaces Coupeville Elementary principal Dan Sakaue, who resigned last month to take a position in Renton. Sakaue, who has been at Coupeville for two years, said he wanted to pursue his dream of working in a diverse urban community.Merwine has had a long and varied career in Oak Harbor, having served since the mid '70s as a preschool teacher, junior high English teacher, elementary and junior high librarian, interim high school vice-principal and Skagit Valley College teacher. Since 1996 she has been principal of Oak Harbor Elementary, the largest of the the district's six elementary schools with a current student population of about 700 kids.In the fall of 1998 Oak Harbor Elementary became the district's school of choice, with an alternative curriculum which included an emphasis on technology and character education, and a requirement that students wear school uniforms. Under Merwine's leadership the school has been registering some of the best state test scores in the district and continues to have a waiting list of parents wishing to enroll their children.Merwine said the school's staff is more responsible for the success than she is.I think it's a showplace, she said of Oak Harbor Elementary. I've learned so much from the staff here. I'm not leaving because I'm unhappy. Oak Harbor Elementary parent Joe Mosolino looked pained when he heard Merwine was leaving.I'm happy for her but I'm devastated for us, said Mosolino. He said Merwine will be hard to replace because her dedication to the school was extremely strong. I'd see her car in the parking lot at 4:30 in the morning and I'd see her car in the parking lot at 8 o'clock at night.Bond said that Merwine impressed Coupeville parents, teachers and school board members during an extensive interview process. They called her a confident leader who embodied values, integrity, trust and fun, Bond said. Small, rural schools sometimes have a hard time attracting well-established candidates for administrative positions, but Bond said the experience level of the applicants was very high this time around - especially among the three finalists. In addition to Merwine, the finalists included Rosalynn Schott, a principal from the Snohomish School District, and another Oak Harbor principal, Vicki Barber of Broad View Elementary.Merwine currently lives in Mount Vernon, but said she will likely begin looking for a new home closer to Coupeville.I'm so looking forward to getting the team-building going, she said.Merwine is not the only school administrator leaving the Oak Harbor district at the end of this school year. Crescent Harbor Elementary School Principal Don Warner announced that he will be taking a position with the Spokane School District and Oak Harbor Middle School Assistant Principal Joel Hollingsworth is departing for the Selah School District. "

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