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Joe Davalos is headed for Suquamish superintendent slot

Joe Davalos, who served as principal at Suquamish Elementary for 15 years, is taking the helm of the Suquamish Tribe as superintendent. - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Joe Davalos, who served as principal at Suquamish Elementary for 15 years, is taking the helm of the Suquamish Tribe as superintendent.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

SUQUAMISH — The North Kitsap School District is bidding farewell to 15 years of experience and leadership at Suquamish Elementary.

Joe Davalos resigned from the district after accepting a position as the new superintendent of Suquamish Schools for the Suquamish Tribe on June 11.

On June 23, Suquamish Elementary Learning Specialist Jon Torgerson, who has worked with Davalos for 10 years, was selected as the interim principal of the school. Torgerson was Davalos’ intern about 3 years ago and Davalos said he has every confidence in Torgerson.

“He can run the school, without a doubt,” Davalos said.

Davalos had his sights set on a leadership position such as this for his entire career, he said.

“I knew that I had another big thing to do. I have been told by successful people that you know when you are on your last job, but I knew I would not stop here.”

The roles of principal and superintendent require a person who is not focused on becoming powerful, but on their guidance, Davalos said. During his career he found himself dedicated to helping people grow. Instead of seeking power he gave it away, he said.

Suquamish Elementary Office Manager Pamela Goodman, who served on Davalos’ hiring committee 15 years ago, said he exceeded her expectations as principal.

As a boss, Davalos was easy to work with and became a mentor who helped her become a better employee by helping her explore new ideas, she said.

“(Davalos) brought Suquamish Elementary from the idea of a tiny school in the middle of nowhere to one of the outstanding schools in the district,” Goodman said. “Our community is better for it too, not just the school, but the tribal and business community.”

Once Davalos begins his new position as superintendent he will not look to make any drastic changes, he said. He will start by building on what is already established within the school administration and building a collaborative team, he said.

“One of the main challenges for those who maintain positions of power continues to be themselves,” Davalos said. “It has always been that way and will continue to be that way until we can all work together.”

It is necessary for administrators to allow teachers and faculty to have a say in the decisions made, Davalos said.

District administrators are currently figuring out ways to solve a $700,000 loss in the 2010-11 budget. Some ideas which have come to the table include reducing library and counseling staff throughout elementary schools.

The budget and state funding for public schools has always been a challenge, but Davalos said eliminating librarians and counselors should be out of the question. It should be left up to the teachers and faculty to decide how to work around the budget shortfalls he said.

“Frankly, everyone thinks they are an expert on education, because they have all gone to school,” Davalos said. “This causes problems and can result in mistrust within our school districts.”

Torgerson said Davalos has improved not just the overall quality of the school, but also individual lives. He looks forward to seeing what Davalos will do in his new position.

“He puts students first and he does everything that he can to help teachers and staff members so that we can all be successful in helping the students to learn,” Torgerson said.

Because it is so late in the year, it would not make sense to begin the search for a full-time position and hiring Torgerson as interim principal is the best decision, he said.

The search for a new principal will start at the end of summer, Davalos said.

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