Meet the New Superintendent of the Snoqualmie Valley School District
After a three-month national search, the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board appointed Lance Gibbon as the new principal of Snoqualmie Schools. He officially started working for the district on July 1.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this school district and full of hope for the future,” Gibbon said. “I know last year was tough for just about everyone, but we’re on the recovery side, and Snoqualmie Valley is ready to do amazing things for our students.”
Gibbon replaces retired Superintendent Rob Manahan, who had served as Superintendent since 2018.
Gibbon spent 29 years in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He most recently served 14 years in the Oak Harbor School District, including eight as the District Superintendent. He graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in music education and from Seattle Pacific University with a doctorate in education.
During his tenure as Oak Harbor superintendent, the district experienced an increase in test scores and graduation rates. Gibbon said he attributes his success to being student-focused and providing opportunities for students to interact with adults and with each other.
“One of the things that is important to me is that every student has at least one adult who knows them, who connects with them, who the students feel known as individuals,” he said. “Having a full education program gives us this chance to get involved, and I think that’s really fundamental to student success. ”
Under Gibbon’s leadership, Oak Harbor was the largest school district in western Washington to return for full-time in-person learning last year. The district started the school year last with kindergarten to grade four in person and had expelled all students by February.
“The challenge of being the biggest at doing this is that there is no roadmap,” Gibbon said. “I think [reopening] is truly a testament to the Oak Harbor team, and I’m certainly proud of the work we’ve done.
Gibbon said the Snoqualmie Valley School District will follow guidelines from the state Department of Health regarding COVID-19 precautions when schools reopen this fall. The Department of Health currently requires masks for students and staff in indoor environments while students are present. Vaccinated teachers can go without a mask when no student is present. Gibbon said those guidelines could change by September.
Besides COVID-19, Gibbon said another long-term priority is to adapt the neighborhood to the demand of a rapidly growing and diversifying student population.
“We have students in poverty, we have students with disabilities, English learners and more racial diversity in our community than ever before,” he said. “It is important that what we offer our students meets changing needs, and all students see their needs met as individuals. ”
According to state data, approximately 10% of students in Snoqualmie Valley are identified as low income, 11% have a disability, and 4% are English learners.
The growing size of the school district will also be a challenge. Over the past decade, registrations in the district have increased 16%, according to the district’s website. Gibbon estimates that 100 portable classrooms are in use across the district and said he wants to update the district’s long-term installation plan for capacity limits and building conditions.
Despite these challenges, Gibbon said he was excited about the opportunity and looks forward to building relationships with the community and bringing students back to classrooms.
“I like a school district that is big enough to provide a variety of opportunities, but small enough where we get to know each other and have a sense of community,” Gibbon said. “I think this school year is going to be great and the future is really bright. I am delighted to be part of the team.