We had a chance to meet with Slade last spring and are loving what he’s creating for our community and our kids.
VH: From where do you hail?
My roots are in Fruitland Park Florida… a small rural town in Central Florida. I left at the age of 16 and moved to Southern California where I spent most my time until I met my wife Kelli, 15 years ago in Portland, Or. The last 15 years were spent in Vancouver, WA, just across the river from Portland. Each of these places remains dear to me.
VH: Why did you choose Vashon as your place to land?
It may very well be that Vashon chose me. I had never visited Vashon before I applied for the position. I was interested initially due to their work in Racial Equity, a small town (similar to where I grew up which I knew my own children would prosper) and some proximity to Seattle. Once I rode the ferry over for the first time, it felt like home. That’s always a great first feeling when you are anticipating uprooting your family. My wife Kelli was also interested in living in a more rural environment where she can raise chickens… and maybe goats.
VH: What do you want the community to know about Vashon SD?
We are a district that prides ourselves on helping each student feel like they belong, academic excellence, as well as offering unique learning opportunities for all students including, Citizen Science, Exploratory Week, world class high school journalism program, as well as traveling opportunities to Japan, Costa Rica, and Washington DC. Not far behind, we have a staff that is so talented it is hard to imagine a better team of folks who are working together for our students.
VH: What inspired you to have a career in education?
After spending many summers as a swim instructor and lifeguard in summer camps across the United States as well as an entire year as an Outdoor School Counselor, it was clear that my path would lead me to the service of students. I started as a 4th grade teacher, however, found I had a passion for helping our most vulnerable students. As I learned about the needs and where I could be most effective, I moved into leadership and eventually to the superintendency. I will emphatically say this is the best job I’ve ever had over the course of 25 years.
VH: What do you hope every child receives from their education at VSD?
I want them to remember their teachers for the care that was demonstrated. I want them to remember their courses for the rigor and high expectations. I want them to have learned to fail and to get back up and try again. I want them to understand there is a great world out their and to be curious about the role they will play and the contributions they will be able to make.
VH: What is your superpower?
I know how to persevere really well… as well as tell when my two boys, Hank and Gus, may not be telling the truth.
VH: When you have company visiting the island, where do you like to take them?
Pt. Robinson. Great place to walk, take pictures, watch Orcas, explore, take the dog, and see a baby Harbor Seal. Snapdragon.
VH: What’s next for Vashon SD?
Good question. I’m still in the process of learning so the “next” part isn’t quite ready yet. It will come. For now, I’m enjoying meeting people, learning about my staff and community, and making sure my focus is on developing strong relationships. I’m fortunate to have a great leadership team and a great board who has been very supportive in my transition.
VH: What’s the best thing you ever bought at Granny’s? 🙂
I went there to find a some craft items (beads) for Gus’, my youngest, art project. They were the only place to have them…