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Coupeville principal leaves for Everett job

"Fred Dahlem is following the call to teach back home.After three years as principal of Coupeville High School, the 54-year-old educator is leaving his school of 300 sturdents to serve as principal at the 1,500-student Jackson High School in Everett, where he lives.Coupeville School District Superintendent Suzanne Bond said Dahlem will be replaced by Coupeville Middle School Principal Phyllis Textor, who will serve as principal for both schools after the current school year. She said the district will hire an assistant principal who will also serve both schools. Bond said the the new leadership structure will allow the new principal to spend more time on developing curricula and teaching strategies for the schools, while discipline issues will be handled primarily by the assistant principal. Under the current system, the principals have had to divide their time between developing curricula and maintaining classroom order. And that, said Bond, has been an ongoing stumbling block for top school administrators.Dahlem, who accepted the post at Jackson three weeks ago, said his decision to leave was not prompted by problems he had with Coupeville's district or community.On the contrary, he said, he found the support he received from both parents and the district incredible. Dahlem said he came to Coupeville with hopes that his family would move to Whidbey and he would be able to retire in the community. Those plans, however, fell through and he decided he needed to work closer to home. Jackson High School, in fact, serves his neighborhood.Before coming to Coupeville, Dahlem - who earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in science education from Western Washington University in 1992 - taught 12 years at Inglemoor High School in Seattle and served 12 years as principal of Woodinville High School, which he helped open.Coupeville school board President Jackie Henderson said Dahlem excelled in the district's work environment, which promotes a team approach.It truly is a team approach, said Henderson, adding that staff directives don't always come down from the top ... often the ideas come from the bottom up.Fred was an integral part of the team, she said.His support of the staff was primary, said Bond. I felt that his staff really approved of his approach ... they felt they were heard in the process.He was able to work with all of the departments - not just teaching, but integrating the curriculum into the individual programs, said Bond.Dahlem, who specialized in curriculum development during his studies, oversaw the school district's effort over the past few years to develop an instructional system that integrates specific learning goals throughout the K-12 educational experience.Dahlem said he enjoyed the opportunity to work in a small high school, where he had the resources and flexibility to develop those learning plans and see them implemented.Dahlem said carrying out similar lesson plans at bigger schools like Jackson is often much more complicated - if not virtually impossible.Henderson said Dahlem's new position at Jackson is a testament to his successes as leader. She said it's typical for administrators to work their way up to a large school like Jackson step by step. Dahlem, on the other hand, is making a great leap.We're very sorry to see him leave, said Henderson. Fred is just an extremely positive person ... he truly likes kids, and that's always coming through.Dahlem said he chose the teaching profession because he was looking for a career in which I could work with people and truly help society.Straight out of high school, Dahlem - who loves science - originally planned to pursue medicine. But, he said, it wasn't what I thought it was.Sometime during his undergraduate years at the University of Washington, and after realizing the personal goals he had to serve his community, Dahlem saw there was nothing better for me to do than teaching.Dahlem said he was heartened by the high school's proven commitment to preparing students for the future - either in higher education or in the working world. He commended the school's college preparatory and vocational training programs. He praised the staff, saying he hopes they will keep the same vision on the school's goals. I hope they hold that vision of making it better and better.Dahlem said he also hopes the students continue to strive for excellence. This system has opened many doors for them, he said. Now, it's their responsibility to choose which doors to go through. "

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